MPs give Theresa May green light to seek another Brexit extension

The Commons approved a Government motion on the Brexit extension request by 420 votes to 110 (PA)

MPs gave their backing to Theresa May to ask the EU to delay Brexit again.

The Commons approved a Government motion on the extension request by 420 votes to 110, majority 310.

The Prime Minister was forced to bring forward the motion under legislation pushed by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper, as part of a parliamentary bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit on April 12 – although any extension is subject to the decision of the EU.

80 Conservative MPs did not vote for the motion in protest against the idea of pushing back the Brexit date once again as Brexiteers voiced concerns about the impact of the UK being forced to take part in European elections in May.

The came as the European Union signalled it is likely to offer the UK a final Brexit extension after the 27 EU leaders meet tomorrow.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Brussels could amend the Political Declaration on future relations with the UK “within a few hours or days” to incorporate the customs union arrangement being discussed in cross-party talks between the government and Labour.

 

It has been reported that Mr Barnier asked the leaders of 27 EU nations to back prime minister Theresa May’s request for a Brexit delay until June 30.

Mr Barnier told a press conference in Luxembourg: “The Withdrawal Agreement is not going to be reopened, is not up for negotiation again. That continues to be the case.

“The Political Declaration, which will set the framework for future relations, can be improved, we can provide an increased level of ambition if that is the wish of the UK.

“These ambitions for the future relationship, which could – for example – consist of adding to the free trade agreement on which we have agreed with the UK already a customs union, a genuine customs union.

“We are willing to improve and amend the Political Declaration rapidly, within a few hours or days.”

There were signs of resistance in Mrs May’s Cabinet to compromise with Labour, with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox warning that a customs union would leave the UK “stuck in the worst of both worlds”.

Theresa May is reportedly considering offering MPs a vote on a second Brexit referendum (Picture: PA)

In a clear sign of opposition to concessions to Labour’s demands, Dr Fox sent a letter to the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee setting out in detail his opposition to a post-Brexit customs union.

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The letter, obtained by the Daily Telegraph, warns that such an arrangement would leave the UK unable to set its own trade policy but forced to open its markets to any country with which the EU struck a free trade agreement.

“In such a scenario the UK would have a new role in the global trading system – we ourselves would be traded,” he told Sir Graham Brady.

“As the famous saying in Brussels goes, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

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