Brexit deal: MPs pressure Theresa May to adopt Norway model as ‘Plan B’ Brexit

Theresa May’s “plan B” could emerge next week when at least four attempts to shape Brexit will be made by groups of MPs in the Commons. They will table amendments advocating rival suggestions for the way ahead. Supporters of a Norway-style “soft Brexit”, keeping Britain in the single market as well as a customs union, believe the move could command majority support across the Commons. Read more at:

The Brexit dream is over, or so say the markets, and they are probably right

The Brexit dream is over - in any meaningful sense, at least. That was the clear and unambiguous message from markets this morning, which cynically marked the pound up sharply in response to Britain’s seismic political crisis, and they are probably right. You might have thought the correct response would have been the other way around, but no, markets are betting that Theresa May’s crushing defeat makes a no-deal Brexit less likely, and either a much softer Brexit - Norway Plus - or no Brexit at all, the overwhelming odds-on end game. Those advocating a clean-break on WTO terms of trade have shot their bolt. Their time in the sun is over, and they are heading for a defeat just as bad as that of Theresa May’s ritual humiliation. Their principled rejection of her deal, in unholy alliance with hardline Remainers and an opportunistic Labour Party, is about to backfire spectacularly. If the gamble was to run down the clock to the default Brexit position of departure with no deal, it is very unlikely to succeed against a parliamentary majority determined to thwart it.

Brexit: Prepare for General Election, Prime Minister May warned after historical Commons vote defeat

A Leaver and a pro-European demonstrator argue during protests opposite the Houses of Parliament in LondonAP JOE MURPHY, EVENING STANDARD|AIWA! NO!|A general election is “on the…

Continue reading → Brexit: Prepare for General Election, Prime Minister May warned after historical Commons vote defeat

The Brexit delusion: why a utopian project was always doomed to failure

Until the UK embarked on Brexit, no major country had ever sought to leave a trade bloc. Britain’s torturous attempt to do so is evidence of why. Two and a half years have passed since the 2016 EU referendum, and only two months remain before the UK’s scheduled departure, but parliament is resolved to be irresolute. Theresa May hoped that her withdrawal agreement would appeal to Remainers and Leavers as a tolerable compromise. Instead, it repelled both. Most Remainers disdained it because it was Brexit, Leavers because it was insufficiently “hard”. Having deployed patronage with promiscuous abandon – a knighthood for John Redwood MP, Privy Council membership for Edward Leigh MP – the Prime Minister lost with dishonour. There are now no attractive or comfortable options for the UK: it could revoke Article 50 (which would entail overturning a democratic vote), it could stage a second referendum (which would inflame divisions and further undermine parliamentary sovereignty), it could seek a Norway-style deal (which would render it a rule-taker, rather than a rule-maker, and keep free movement), it could leave with no deal (an act of economic self-harm), or it could accept May’s unwanted orphan by means of another parliamentary vote. What no longer exists is the supposed status quo. The spectre of the 2016 Leave vote will haunt any decision to remain in the EU.


Freelancers will today welcome MPs dealing Theresa May the defeat they have been threatening, as most self-employed people dislike her withdrawal agreement. In fact, a 660-strong survey of freelancers shows that 60 per cent believe their business will take a hit should the prime minister’s ‘deal,’ voted against last night by MPs, go ahead largely as it is. But that still makes it more popular than ‘no deal’ -- or 'WTO terms,' which 64 per cent of freelancers warn will adversely impact their one-person operation, found IPSE, which ran the survey in December. Almost regardless of last night’s decisive vote against the PM’s Brexit deal, the IPSE findings point to a “large shift in freelancers’ opinion," said IPSE’s deputy director of policy Andy Chamberlain. Indeed, when the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) posed a similar question 12 months ago, only 44 per cent of independent workers were anti-Brexit.

BREXIT COUNTDOWN #3: About last night…

Last night, I couldn’t help but settle back, sip wistfully at my hot Ribena, and think: ‘Remember the Chequers deal?’ This was the Brexit plan that Theresa May hammered out with her ministers, amid the wood-panelled splendour of her official country residence, last July, some two years after the Brexit vote itself. There were resignations. There were tweets, posts and articles. Broadcasters jostled to discover what Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage thought. And, in the end, it was all kind of meaningless. The Chequers deal had not, after all, been agreed with or by the European Union.