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Ministers will reveal secret no deal tariff plans at 7am as MPs prepare to vote on whether to delay Brexit after May's agreement is hammered AGAIN, 16 days before deadline for crashing out of EU

Ministers will reveal secret no deal tariff plans at 7am as MPs prepare to vote on whether to delay Brexit after May's agreement is hammered AGAIN, 16 days before deadline for crashing out of EU

Ministers will today reveal the secret tariffs and Irish border plans which would come into force in a no-deal Brexit, as MPs prepare to vote on the prospect tonight after once again rejecting Theresa May's withdrawal deal. 

The plans, due to be revealed at 7am, will also set out the sensitive details of how the Government would manage the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic - the issue which has left Mrs May's plans in ruins. 

They will also reveal which imports would be taxed after March 29, the date when Britain will crash out of the EU unless a deal is agreed or Parliament votes to extend Article 50.

Insiders say the tariffs could put tens of thousands of jobs at risk. And critics say publication of both could weeaken Britain's positions in any further negotiations.  

The PM has promised Tory MPs a free vote on a no-deal Brexit, after her deal went down in a 149-vote thrashing last night. 

Mrs May had hoped her last-ditch trip to Strasbourg - where she claimed to have won 'legally binding changes' to the contentious Irish backstop - would persuade reluctant Brexiteers to back her deal. 

But with just 16 days until Brexit, the Commons rejected the revised deal by 391 to 242, as 75 Tory rebels, all 10 DUP MPs and almost every Labour MP united in opposition to the PM's plans, with only three of Jeremy Corbyn's MPs voting in favour.

Any hopes of persuading the Tory hardliners had slipped away earlier on Wednesday when Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the UK could still be trapped in the backstop despite the changes in Strasbourg.  

Moments after the vote, Mrs May handed control of Brexit to Parliament, saying Tory MPs would have a free vote on no-deal tonight, and promising a vote on a Brexit delay tomorrow if tonight's motion is defeated.  

Mrs May has insisted the Government honours the Good Friday Agreement and will never erect a hard border but there is no clarity on how this would be done from outside the EU.

She said: 'To ensure the House is fully informed in making this historic decision, the Government will tomorrow publish information on essential policies which would need to be put in place if we were to leave without a deal.

'These will cover our approach to tariffs and the Northern Ireland border, among other matters.

'If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision.'

Mrs May also raised the spectre of cancelling Brexit altogether, saying MPs would have to decide whether they wanted to cancel Article 50, call a second referendum or leave with a different deal.  

A spokesman for the PM - who could barely speak after losing her voice - denied she had discussed resigning in the aftermath of the defeat. 

She is likely to oppose a no-deal exit herself but is suspending Cabinet collective responsibility amid claims that she has lost all her authority. 

MPs will vote on whether they agree with a motion that says they do not want to leave the EU without a deal. 

However backbenchers led by Tory former minister Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour's Jack Dromey last night put down an amendment that would reject No Deal outright.

Another group, led by former Brexit minister Steve Baker tabled an amendment that would seek an extension of Article 50 until May 22. It was signed by Damian Green, Iain Duncan Smith, Nicky Morgan, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Hart and the DUP's Nigel Dodds.

Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly last night warned it would be a mistake for MPs to take No Deal off the table. He said: 'I believe it weakens our hand.' 

Labour said Mrs May had 'given up any pretence of leading the country' after Jeremy Corbyn led his troops against the negotiated deal. 

In the aftermath of the devastating defeat the Prime Minister said that the choices facing the UK were 'unenviable', but because of the rejection of her deal, 'they are choices that must be faced'.

She warned 'voting against leaving without a deal does not solve the problems we face' as she insisted the referendum must be delivered.

Mrs May announced the no deal motion would say crashing out was the 'default' option in UK law but few in Westminster think there is any chance it will not be defeated tomorrow night.

She admitted to having 'personally struggled' with the conflict between delivering Brexit and avoiding the 'potential damage to the Union' that no deal could do to Northern Ireland. 

'If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision,' she said. 

'If the House declines to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March, the Government will, following that vote, bring forward a motion on Thursday on whether Parliament wants to seek an extension to article 50.' 

Before last night's vote Mrs May warned defeat for the deal would trigger a 'moment of crisis' and insisted if MPs refused to back it 'Brexit could be lost'.

But after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox ruled three new documents agreed in Brussels did nothing to stop the legal risk that the Irish backstop could become permanent, most Tory rebels rejected the deal a second time.

Remain supporters will hope to use disarray in the aftermath of last night's vote to force a second referendum while Mrs May will face inevitable demands to resign. Expectation is also rising there could be a snap general election.

The PM knew her fate before Speaker John Bercow called the vote at 7pm, after Brexiteer ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the majority of his European Research Group would vote against the deal.

Mr Rees-Mogg said earlier the advice meant he could only back the deal if Brexit was at risk - a threat he branded a 'phantom' this afternoon despite Mrs May's warning. 

And Boris Johnson warned Mrs May her plans have 'reached the end of the road' and said no deal was the only way for Britain to leave the EU with 'self-respect'. 

He insisted the ailing package should be 'put to bed' - despite Westminster being rife with rumours of a third vote.

The DUP - whose 10 MPs prop up Mrs May in Downing Street - led the charge against the PM after declaring her concessions 'not enough'.

A handful of Conservatives who voted No on January 15 switched to back the deal last night. But the 20 switchers identified by MailOnline were far short of the 116 extra votes Mrs May needed to reverse the 230 vote loss of January 15. 

As she made her final plea Mrs May said, croakily: 'A lot of focus has been on the legal changes - but if this vote does not pass Brexit could be lost'.

She told MPs: 'This is the moment and this is the time - time for us to come together, back this motion and get the deal done. We cannot serve our country by overturning a democratic decision of the British people. We cannot serve by prolonging a debate the British people now wish to see settled'. 

As MPs poked fun at her croaky voice and critics offered her throat sweets she hit back: 'You may say that but you should hear Jean-Claude Juncker's voice after our talks'.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has flirted with MPs campaigning for a second referendum and a softer Brexit, confronted Mrs May and urged MPs to throw out her deal calling her negotiations a 'failure' and said he 'looked forward to Parliament taking control'.

Labour MPs almost all voted No despite Mrs May's attempts to win them over with new protections for workers' rights and money for struggling towns. 

Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, warned that defeat in the second 'meaningful vote' on the Withdrawal Agreement would lead to a general election.

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One yesterday: 'If it doesn't go through tonight, as sure as night follows day, there will be a general election within a matter of days or weeks. It is not sustainable, the current situation in Parliament.'

The likely fatal blow to Mrs May's Brexit deal came after her Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC admitted that the 11th hour deal struck in Strasbourg on Tuesday night failed to reverse his legal advice that Britain could be locked into EU rules forever through the Irish backstop.  

In his bombshell letter presented to the cabinet this morning Mr Cox said: 'The legal risk remains unchanged. The UK would have no internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol's arrangements, save by agreement'.

And on another extraordinary day in Westminster where Theresa May lost the most important day of her Premiership: 

  • Theresa May lost the second meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by a huge 149 votes; 
  • She announced MPs would vote on whether to go for a no deal Brexit tonight. Conservative MPs will get a free vote and Mrs May admitted to 'personally struggling over the choice;  
  • The Prime Minister claimed victory over 'legally binding' changes to her EU deal only for her own Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to undermine her by admitting he couldn't change his advice on the backstop;
  • DUP and Tory Brexiteers refused to back her deal after Mr Cox's bombshell legal letter;
  • Mrs May used her Commons speech to warn MPs: 'If this vote is not passed then Brexit could be lost'
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said her deal must be defeated so Parliament can 'take control' of the Brexit process; 
  • Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the Tory 1922 committee, insisted before the vote that Mrs May would have to call a general election 'within weeks' if her deal were defeated;

Theresa May's hopes of securing House of Commons approval for her Brexit deal suffered a shattering blow before the vote yesterday as Tory Eurosceptics said they would not back it and her DUP allies said they would vote against.

A so-called Star Chamber convened by the Leave-backing European Research Group concluded that agreements reached by the Prime Minister in 11th-hour talks in Strasbourg do not deliver the legally-binding changes the Commons has demanded.

And the Democratic Unionist Party - which props up Mrs May's minority administration in the Commons - said its 10 MPs would vote against the latest deal as 'sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time'.

Responding to Mrs May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said 'not a single word' of the Withdrawal Agreement had changed.

He said: 'After three months of running down the clock the Prime Minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the Withdrawal Agreement - not one single word has changed.

'In terms of the substance, literally nothing has changed ... There is no unilateral exit mechanism, there is not time limit, there are no alternative arrangements'.

Mr Corbyn accused the Government of trying to 'fool' its own backbenchers and the British people over its Brexit deal.

He said: 'The unilateral statement is a weak Government trying to fool its own backbenchers because the EU has not even signed up to it.'

He continued: 'The Government is in real problems because they are trying to fool the people into somehow believing that somehow or other the deal she has offered is the only one that is available.

'It is not and they very well know that.'

The Prime Minister interrupted Mr Corbyn to say his alternative deal had been rejected by MPs and he should listen to that.

She said: 'When the deal the Government had negotiated was rejected overwhelmingly by this House, he said we should listen. We have listened.

'The other week his proposals were rejected overwhelmingly by this House - why is he not listening?'

Mr Corbyn replied he spent 'a great deal of time listening to people' on the shop floor and in small businesses, and 'they want some degree of certainty', adding 'her deal does not offer that degree of certainty at all'. 

As she defended her deal Mrs May reeled off a list of 'core elements' she said were delivered by the deal.

She said: 'It sends a message to the whole world about the sort of country the UK will be in the years and decades ahead ... To our friends and allies who have long looked up to us as a beacon of pragmatism and decency and a message to those who do not share our values and whose interests diverge from ours. It says this: the UK is a country that honours the democratic decisions taken by our people in referendums and in elections.'

She added: 'I believe that we should be delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016, but I also believe it is important that we give businesses ... the certainty for their future, and there is only one certainty if we do not pass this vote tonight, and that is that uncertainty will continue for our citizens and for our businesses.'

She added: 'We are a country where passionately-held views do not stop us from making compromises to achieve progress. We're a country that values both our national sovereignty and the unbreakable bonds of a shared history.'

She went on: 'A bad deal would be even worse than no deal, but best of all is a good deal, and this is a good deal.'

Former Brexit secretary David Davis lent support to the deal, despite its imperfections.

He said: 'Can she tell the House whether she has detected any change in mood on the part of the EU and the Republic (of Ireland) with respect to a constructive outcome in dealing with the Northern Ireland border?'

Mrs May replied: 'Yes, I think what has been obvious is a change in willingness from the EU to be actively working on those alternative arrangements.

'It was not possible to complete that work in time for the timetable we currently have re March 29.

'But the firm commitments have been given in the documents ... show that willingness on their side to be actively working with us to find those alternative arrangements and find them in a way that means the backstop can indeed be replaced.'

The conclusion immediately sparked a negative reaction from the DUP - seen as the key group the PM needed to win over - with MP Nigel Dodds, who is also a barrister, saying Mrs May's deal meant: 'Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom could be trapped' and an official statement added: 'We recognise that the Prime Minister has made limited progress in her discussions with the European Union.

'However in our view sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time.' 

Minutes later the ERG pulled the plug after a 'star chamber' meeting where their own lawyers and MPs pored over the new deal.

Veteran Brexiteer Bill Cash said: 'In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the Government's motion today' while fellow Tory MP John Whittingdale said Mr Cox had inflicted 'terminal' damage on the PM's deal. 

The Prime Minister joked that you 'should hear Jean-Claude Juncker's voice' after she revealed she had lost her voice as she stepped up to the despatch box.

Theresa May's vocal struggles returned after her speech to the Conservative Party conference in 2017 was infamously overshadowed by her inability to speak.

She could only get out the first two words of her speech, saying 'Mr Speaker' before coughing and clearing her throat.

As Labour MPs joked she could not make her speech, the PM then quipped: 'Okay, you may say that, but you should hear Jean-Claude Juncker's voice as a result of our conversation.'

Hours after releasing his bombshell letter Mr Cox attempted to defend Mrs May's deal and told the Commons it is 'highly unlikely' that the UK and EU would not reach an agreement on their future relationship - and insisted MPs had to make a 'political decision' tonight not a legal one.

After hearing the bad news Theresa May left Downing Street this morning to beg her own MPs to vote for her deal in a lunchtime meeting, warning them that Britain may never leave the EU if they refuse to back her tonight. One MP in the meeting said she 'needed to bring back a rabbit but she had only managed a hamster'.

Minutes earlier she told her cabinet that she did have 'legally-binding changes' to the backstop and ended the meeting by saying: 'Today is the day. Let's get this done'.

In advance of the vote, in a clear threat to Tory Brexiteers, leading Tory remainer Nick Boles, who is working with Labour MPs to deliver the softest possible Brexit, tweeted: 'Do yourselves a favour. Take the win. Vote for the deal. But if you won't, please don't say I didn't warn you about what comes next'. 

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, warned early on against providing just five hours for the Commons to consider a matter that could 'determine the nation's future for a generation or more'.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who unsuccessfully lobbied for an extra day of debate on the Brexit deal motion, said: 'It also does not help the Government achieve what it wishes to achieve - and that is a majority in the vote at the end of today's proceedings.

'Because if people feel that they have been bounced, that they have been hurried and they have been harried, the natural instinct is not necessarily to cave in, but it is in fact to stiffen their resolve and see how the cards fall.'

Theresa May refused to comment on Geoffrey Cox's legal advice as she entered a meeting with Tory MPs where she begged for their support. 

Heading into a meeting with the Prime Minister, Brexit Minister Robin Walker insisted there had been positive changes that Tory MPs would support.

He said: 'I'm positive. We've seen real progress, more progress than many believed would be possible.

'I'm not making crystal ball predictions but what we have seen from the Attorney General is this reduces the risk of the UK being caught in the backstop.'

Sir Desmond Swayne said 'this is an intractable disagreement'.

Former international development minister Grant Shapps said the vote would be close and 'needed the DUP'.

He said: 'One colleague said he was looking for her to bring back a rabbit but she had only managed a hamster - but he said that was good enough for him. I think that was Charlie Elphicke.

'Some colleagues are coming across.'

ERG member Mark Francois said he was 'wholly unconvinced' by Mrs May's improved deal.

He said: 'Question after question after question was directed at her on the legal advice and particularly on paragraph 19 of the Attorney General's statement where he makes the critical observation 'however the legal risk remains unchanged'.

'Colleague after colleague asked about that.

'It's for individual colleagues to judge and obviously they will listen to what the Attorney General says in his statement at 12.30.

'Speaking purely and entirely for myself I regret to say I found the Prime Minister's answers ultimately unconvincing.'

Andrew Bridgen said 'nothing has changed' as he left the meeting after about five minutes.

The Prime Minister on Tuesday night announced 'legally binding changes' to the controversial Irish border backstop after a dramatic dash to Strasbourg and last-minute talks with Jean-Claude Juncker.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis tweeted: 'This all now depends on the Attorney General's legal advice. It is critical that he confirms we can escape this backstop.' 

Theresa May made a direct pitch to MPs at 11.30am and hoped the changes to her deal would be enough to win backing for her plan from rebel Tory Brexiteers and the DUP in the meaningful vote tonight and secure Britain's exit from the EU on March 29. 

In a clear threat to them leading Tory remainer Nick Boles, who is working with Labour MPs to deliver the softest possible Brexit, tweeted: 'Do yourselves a favour. Take the win. Vote for the deal. But if you won't, please don't say I didn't warn you about what comes next'. 

Mrs May needed to convince the entire DUP group of 10 MPs, most of the 108 Eurosceptic ERG rebels, and at least 10 Labour Brexiteers to back her deal to turn her 230-vote defeat earlier this year into an extraordinary and unlikely victory. 

Juncker warned on Tuesday that yesterday's vote was MPs 'last chance' to pass a deal, and said there will be no further changes.

ERG Chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg had given Mrs May hope by saying the new agreement was 'unquestionably a step in the right direction'. David Davis said that if Mr Cox changes his guidance today the deal 'is just about acceptable to me'.  

Tory Brexiteer rebels and Northern Ireland 's DUP have worked through the night to study Mrs May's 'legally binding changes'.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer MPs, said that 'many Conservatives will be heavily influenced by the DUP's view'.

Mr Rees-Mogg also said the process had been 'desperately rushed' and called for the vote to be delayed until tomorrow to give more time to examine the documents.

DUP leader Arlene Foster would not be drawn on what her party in Westminster would do and said last night: 'We will be taking appropriate advice, scrutinising the text line by line and forming our own judgement'.

The ERG and DUP have their own lawyers looking at Mrs May's legal tweaks.

But former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who wants a second referendum, said yesterday: 'It doesn't allow the UK the right to terminate the backstop at a time of its own choosing. Ultimately I don't think this document that's been produced makes any significant difference'.

Independent Group MP Anna Soubry tweeted: 'Just in case you weren't sure who's running our country @Jacob-Rees-Mogg confirms the most important decision our country has taken since WW2 hangs on the views of a self appointed committee of ERG hard Brexit 'lawyers' and the DUP. So much for Taking Back Control'.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has described as 'b*****s' a claim that he had been 'told to find a way' to ensure legal validation of Theresa May's newly-negotiated arrangement with the EU.

The one-word response was given to Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who had tweeted: 'A Lawyer contact tells me that the legal world is aware that the Attorney General said NO last night to the validity of Mrs May's 'new EU deal'... he been told to go away and find a way to say YES: A cohort of lawyers has been summoned.' 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said it was 'make your mind up time' for MPs on the 'new, improved deal'.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We have an improvement on the Withdrawal Agreement that was presented to the House of Commons in January. That improvement ensures that we have additional legal weight behind our position.

'It also ensures that, as in any agreement or any contract, if it is the case that one side - in this case the EU - seeks to act in a way that is not in accordance with their commitments then we can go to court and we can win.

'We have also made a declaration as a nation that, should the EU behave in that way, that is exactly what we will do.'

That declaration of intent has 'political and legal standing', he added.

Rejecting the deal could result in Brexit being 'delayed or diluted', he said in a message aimed at Tory Eurosceptics.  

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the outcome of Tuesday's Strasbourg meeting as 'positive' but insisted the EU's legal assurances do 'not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement or undermine the backstop'. He said he hoped and trusted MPs will support Theresa May's Brexit deal.

He said the backstop remains in place until other arrangements are made.

He added: 'Brexit has been a dark cloud for many months, a positive vote can remove that cloud and restore confidence in Britain, Ireland and the EU.'

After Tuesday's confusion and rumour in Westminster, the Prime Minister dashed by plane to Strasbourg for emergency talks with EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

Following a two-hour meeting to thrash out the final details, the pair unveiled a three-point plan for a revised deal in a press conference. 

Mr Juncker warned that if Britain delayed Brexit beyond May 22, it would have to take part in EU elections that begin the day after. He also said the package was the EU's final offer and there will be 'no third chances'.

He added: 'If there is no support for the withdrawal agreement tomorrow, perhaps there is no support for Brexit at all. Let's be crystal clear about the choice: it is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all.

'I trust that today's meaningful legal assurances will be meaningful enough for the meaningful vote tomorrow. Let's now bring this withdrawal to a good end. We owe it to history.' 

The first new document unveiled in the three-point plan was a 'joint interpretative instrument', which guarantees that the EU 'cannot act with the intent of applying the backstop indefinitely'.

If triggered, this would allow the UK to challenge it via a beefed-up arbitration process and suspend it. 

The second was a joint statement in addition to the political declaration on the future relationship, forming a legal commitment to find alternative arrangements to the backstop – including technological ones – before it has to be triggered.

It could be key for trying to win over Eurosceptic MPs who believe technological solutions could prevent the need for a hard border without requiring the UK to be left in a customs union in all but name.

Thirdly, the UK published a 'unilateral declaration' setting out Britain's belief that, if the future trade negotiations break down, it can trigger a process which would see the backstop ended. 

Mrs May on Tuesday insisted the changes deliver on promises made to MPs. However, the measures did not amount to a reopening of the withdrawal treaty or an end date or unilateral exit clause to the backstop – key demands from Brexiteer MPs.

When asked if the changes amounted to either an end date or unilateral exit clause on Tuesday, Mrs May said: 'What we have secured is legally binding changes which is exactly what Parliament asked us to secure, and what we have secured very clearly is that the backstop cannot be indefinite and cannot become permanent.'

Mr Juncker said: 'In politics, sometimes you get a second chance. It is what we do with this second chance that counts, because there will be no third chance.

'There will be no further declarations, interpretations and no further assurances if the meaningful vote [on Mrs May's deal] fails.' 

When pressed, he said the changes 'complement' the withdrawal treaty without reopening it.

Following the announcement Mrs Foster, whose MPs the Tories rely on to get legislation through Parliament, said: 'We note the Prime Minister's latest statement and update on our EU exit negotiations.

'These publications need careful analysis. We will be taking appropriate advice, scrutinising the text line by line and forming our own judgement.'

Iain Duncan-Smith, a member of the ERG group of Brexiteers, said: 'We are waiting for the lawyers to see if anything has changed. There are concerns about the Attorney General's advice and when we will see it.' 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

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