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UK News Desk

Chancellor: Brexit vote will not go ahead without DUP support

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said yesterday that the Brexit deal would not be put to the vote this week without the support of the DUP. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Hammond conceded that the Government did not “yet” have the required number of votes, but said that “a significant number of colleagues … have changed their view on this and decided that the alternatives are so unpalatable to them that they on reflection think the Prime Minister’s deal is the best way to deliver Brexit.”

Among the former opponents of the Brexit deal who have now announced their support is the former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, who resigned from the cabinet over the draft Withdrawal Agreement in November. Speaking over the weekend, she said, “No deal has been removed [as an option]… So the choice before us is this deal or no Brexit whatsoever – and to not have Brexit you go against the democratic vote of the people.” The backbencher Daniel Kawczynski, who has twice voted against the deal, has also said he will support it, describing it as the “only game in town.”

Elsewhere, in a piece for the Sunday Telegraph, Prime Minister Theresa May urged MPs to make “the honourable compromises necessary to heal division and move forward” by supporting the deal. She added, “If Parliament can find a way to back the Brexit deal before European Council, the UK will leave the EU this spring, without having to take part in the European elections, and we can get on with building our future relationship with the EU. If it cannot, we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever.”

Meanwhile, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has urged MPs to vote against the Brexit deal if it is put to the vote again. Writing for the Telegraph, he said that under the deal, “We will be legally and politically at the mercy of Brussels, since we will be obliged to accept all EU legislation, during the so-called implementation period. Worst of all, the Irish backstop arrangement gives the EU an indefinite means of blackmail.”

Separately, advice from government officials seen by the Sunday Times has suggested that there could be potentially no limit on the number of extensions of Article 50. The advice said, “Once the UK has taken part in the EU elections, there is effectively no limit to the number of extensions of article 50 the UK can ask for or be required to ask for by parliament.” A senior government source told the paper that this meant “We could be in the EU forever.”

Henry Newman: We will keep calm and Brexit on

In an article for the Canadian Globe and Mail, Open Europe’s Henry Newman discusses the current state of affairs in Brexit politics. He says, “British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal took another huge knock this week, losing by a margin of 149 votes. But the size of the defeat was less than the historic battering it suffered two months ago. And although clearly wounded, her Brexit deal is far from dead. In fact, the binding divorce deal will certainly be the basis of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.” He adds, “The paroxysms over Brexit in the British Parliament risk distracting us from the three broad choices facing the country. These are: leave with no deal with the EU, leave with a deal or don’t leave the EU.” He concludes, “At times, all the various paths ahead have seemed impossible. Yet one of those paths has to happen. And the most likely course is a version of the Prime Minister’s deal ultimately passes the Commons. Despite all the political twists and turns, the drama and the defeats, I remain convinced that the Britain will leave the EU.”

Elsewhere, writing for the Spectator Coffee House, Open Europe’s Anna Nadibaidze argues that for most EU27 leaders, the crucial condition to agree to an Article 50 extension  “remains the certainty that a delay will actually help the withdrawal agreement get ratified by Westminster,” adding, “Above all, the EU27 want to avoid a “blind” extension and a delay which would pose a risk to the functioning of EU institutions.” She concludes, “Theresa May will be expected to offer a credible plan for an extension at next week’s council. But if her demands do not meet the expectations of the EU27, a desperate 11th hour bid to reconcile things will unfold. Ultimately though, this will come down to a question of politics: this will depend on how much other countries want to help Theresa May out – and for how long.”

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