Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Theresa May’s statement to MPs about Brexit, and the possibility of the Commons getting a chance to vote against no deal
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Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn don’t have much in common, but they both deserve to be recognised as among the most stubborn individuals to hold high political office in recent times. And that makes what we are witnessing today all the more remarkable. Within 24 hours, they both seem to be engaged in remarkable policy shifts on Brexit. Corbyn has finally given the firm commitment to Labour backing a second referendum that he has been resisting for months (although the small print is important – more on that later). And, in an even bigger U-turn, May seems poised to promise MPs a vote on extending article 50.
The Evening Standard first reported this yesterday, but details are sketchy and it seems that much will depend on what is actually decided at cabinet, which starts in half an hour. But there are multiple reports this morning saying that May will today confirm that, if the Commons does not pass a Brexit deal by March 12, MPs will get a chance to vote to extend article 50. Here is an extract from the Financial Times’ story (paywall).
Mrs May’s allies hope that business leaders will rally behind the prime minister as she rules out a cliff-edge exit on March 29; the prospect of a disorderly exit has alarmed and infuriated corporate Britain.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this far,” said one cabinet colleague. “We need a wall of support for the PM to get this through the cabinet.”
But No10 is now sure that Remain Tory ministers along with dozens of backbenchers comfortably have the numbers to defeat the Government in a showdown Commons vote on Wednesday.
As of tonight there was still uncertainty among her colleagues whether she would press the button on the volte face and put it to her cabinet tomorrow morning – where it will cause a furious row between Brexiters and remainers.
The Brexiters are acutely aware that MPs would almost certainly vote to force the prime minister to delay Brexit and therefore prevent a no-deal departure on 29 March.
All of us were agreed that we couldn’t be part of a government that allowed the country to leave the EU without a deal. As D-day approaches, I think we felt honour-bound to actually do something to help prevent such catastrophe.