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21 MAR

The Brexit blame game: PM's speech provokes fury among MPs as they brand her a 'disgrace'

by Dailymail

The Brexit blame game: May heads for Brussels as her speech is branded a 'disgrace' by furious MPs after she said they're responsible for deadlock… while her own ministers admit she's 'under extraordinary pressure'

  • Theresa May accused of sparking 'blame game' with MPs who branded her TV address a 'f***ing digrace'
  • PM urged them to 'end their political games' and deliver Brexit three years after Britain voted to leave the EU
  • She hinted she'd rather quit or leave with No Deal than allow delay 'to give more time for politicians to argue'
  • Today Mrs May will head to Brussels for an EU summit where she will ask leaders for a Brexit delay to June 30
  • But Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are said to want a May 22 Brexit to avoid UK being in euro elections

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter For Mailonline and Jason Groves Political Editor For The Daily Mail

Published: 07:59 GMT, 21 March 2019 | Updated: 10:51 GMT, 21 March 2019

Advertisement Theresa May leaves Downing Street for Brussels as her Brexit deal hangs in the balance

Theresa May leaves Downing Street for Brussels as her Brexit deal hangs in the balance

A grim-faced Theresa May has left for Brussels today hours after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said she is 'under extraordinary pressure' after raging MPs branded her a 'f***ing disgrace' for using a TV speech to scold them for not backing her Brexit deal.

With the UK just eight days from a No Deal departure, Mrs May went on live TV to condemn the Commons for failing to back her EU withdrawal agreement and accused them of playing 'political games'.

The Downing Street address was meant to persuade Brexiteer Tories, Labour rebels and the DUP to back her deal – after the EU said it would only grant a short delay to Article 50 if the Prime Minister can win a vote on her plan before next Friday.

But May's address appears to have spectacularly backfired as she heads to Brussels today for a crucial summit.

Her defiant speech caused a great deal of upset among MPs who branded it 'toxic', 'contemptuous', 'incendiary and irresponsible' while another called it a 'f***ing disgrace'

Mr Hunt said 'no Prime Minister in living memory has been tested' in the way that Mrs May has and claimed the tone of her speech reflected her 'extreme frustration' at the current Brexit stalemate, which he said is 'sapping our national confidence'.

Defending the Prime Minister, who is facing calls to quit, he told the BBC: 'Let's not forget the extraordinary pressure she is under. She was expressing her frustration and the public's frustration' – but added: 'I don't think we should all make this about Theresa May'.

Tellingly the Foreign Secretary twice admitted it is not yet certain Mrs May can bring back her deal for a third vote – but said if it's defeated there are three options: No Deal, revoke Article 50 or a 'long delay' to Brexit.

The Prime Minister will travel to Brussels today to ask for an extension until the end of June to try to get her plan through arriving at around midday. She will address EU leaders at around 3pm.

Last night Mrs May appeared to misjudge a live TV speech by blast MPs for not backing her Brexit deal as she heads to Brussels today to beg for a three-month Article 50 extension.

Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement about Brexit in Downing Street last night. She confirmed Britain will not be leaving the EU on March 29 and Mrs May will seek an extension on the the UK's Brexit withdrawal until June 30. Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement about Brexit in Downing Street last night. She confirmed Britain will not be leaving the EU on March 29 and Mrs May will seek an extension on the the UK's Brexit withdrawal until June 30. Jeremy Hunt said 'no prime minister in living memory has been tested' in the way that Mrs May has. Jeremy Hunt said 'no prime minister in living memory has been tested' in the way that Mrs May has.

Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement about Brexit in Downing Street last night. She confirmed Britain will not be leaving the EU on March 29 and Mrs May will seek an extension on the the UK's Brexit withdrawal until June 30. Jeremy Hunt said 'no prime minister in living memory has been tested' in the way that Mrs May has.

Tory Remainer Sam Gymiah hit out at his party leader and said: 'Resorting to the blame game, as the PM is doing, is a low blow. Tory Remainer Sam Gymiah hit out at his party leader and said: 'Resorting to the blame game, as the PM is doing, is a low blow. Tory Brexiteer Henry Smith says that Britain must now opt for No Deal Tory Brexiteer Henry Smith says that Britain must now opt for No Deal

Tory Remainer Sam Gymiah hit out at his party leader and said: 'Resorting to the blame game, as the PM is doing, is a low blow' while Tory Brexiteer Henry Smith says that Britain must now opt for No Deal

Potential Labour 'switcher' Lisa Nandy claimed last night that Mrs May had blown her chance to win her and other MPs over Potential Labour 'switcher' Lisa Nandy claimed last night that Mrs May had blown her chance to win her and other MPs over

Potential Labour 'switcher' Lisa Nandy claimed last night that Mrs May had blown her chance to win her and other MPs over

Tory Remainer Sam Gyimah hit out at his party leader and said: 'Resorting to the blame game, as the PM is doing, is a low blow. Democracy loses when a Prime Minister who has set herself against the House of Commons then blames MPs for doing their job. It's Toxic. She knows MPs are receiving hate mail. We're repeatedly being urged to hold their noses to the stench of this deal and vote for it. That cannot be the blueprint for our great country and I cannot support it'.

Jeremy Hunt: There's no guarantee the PM can bring back her vote

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he does not know if Theresa May's Brexit deal will be brought back to Parliament next week, as he warned of 'extreme unpredictability' if the issue is not resolved.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'If we are in the same situation this time next week then only a very limited list of things could happen: Parliament could vote to revoke Article 50, which is cancelling the Brexit process – I think that's highly unlikely…

'There could be an EU emergency summit to offer us an extension and we don't know what the length will be and it could have some very onerous conditions – they could say, for example, 'We'll give you an extension if you have a second referendum'.

'Again, I think it's very unlikely Parliament would vote for that. And then we have no-deal as the legal default on Friday.

'So the choice that we have now is one of resolving this issue or extreme unpredictability.'

Mr Hunt said 'no prime minister in living memory has been tested' in the way that Mrs May has.

'Let's not forget the extraordinary pressure that she is personally under, and I think she does feel a sense of frustration,' he told Today.

'She is absolutely determined to deliver what people voted for and I think … the Brexit process has sapped our national confidence and we need to remember now what we're capable of as a country.

'And we need to remember that the economy has actually not suffered in the way many people thought it would and we have a chance now to resolve this and move on, to close this chapter, move on to the next chapter.

'And we will be able to say, as one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world, that we were faced with a very difficult decision – a decision that most of the political establishment didn't want to go ahead – and we've delivered it because we are a country where we do what the people say.'

Potential 'switcher' Lisa Nandy claimed last night that Mrs May had blown her chance and said: 'There's absolutely no chance she is going to win over MPs in sufficient numbers after that statement. It was an attack on liberal democracy itself. I will not support a government that takes such a reckless approach'.

But Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said today he believes more MPs will back the Prime Minister's deal after her intervention and insisted she has a 'good shot at landing the deal and winning a vote next week'.

He added: 'I don't think there is a blame game at all- she set out very clearly where we are in the process. There is a deal. If we get the deal through, we can get a short extension to the Article 50 process and we can leave the EU.

'I think saying: 'I'm with you' makes perfect sense. The cab driver who drove me here this morning said: 'I just want to leave…get the deal done and I want to be out of the EU'. The Prime Minister very much reflected that opinion, which is widely held. People are fed up…they want to leave the EU'.

Last night she said the delay to the planned March 29 exit date, which she had promised to keep more than 100 times in Parliament, was 'a matter of great personal regret'.

The PM hinted she would rather quit or leave with No Deal than allow delay 'to give more time for politicians to argue'.

Donald Tusk had raised the stakes by warning an extension to Article 50 would be agreed only if MPs approved her deal. This opened up the possibility that the UK could leave without a deal next Friday.

'I believe that a short extension would be possible,' said Mr Tusk, who is president of the European Council.

'But it would be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons.'

He said the hopes of a deal now seemed 'frail, even illusory' but said the EU would not give up. He suggested an emergency Brussels summit could be held at the end of next week, just hours before Britain is due to leave, to consider offering the UK a much longer extension – at a price.

Government sources last night indicated Mrs May would make a third – and probably final – attempt to persuade MPs to approve her deal next week, possibly as soon as Monday.

Speaking 1,000 days after the UK voted to leave the EU, Mrs May warned MPs they would never be forgiven if they failed to deliver Brexit.

Addressing the public directly, she said: 'Of this I am absolutely sure, you the public have had enough, you are tired of the infighting, you are tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children's schools, our National Health Service, knife crime. You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with.'

Ministers still hope they can win the backing of the DUP and persuade more moderate Eurosceptics to back the deal. But they have all but abandoned hope of persuading the two dozen Brexit hardliners holding out for No Deal.

Instead they are focusing on Labour MPs, particularly those in Leave-supporting areas, who they believe might reluctantly back Mrs May's plan rather than allow the UK to crash out next week.

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, tweeted: 'Theresa May knows that MPs across the House are subjected to death threats — some very credible. Her speech was incendiary and irresponsible. If any harm comes to any of us, she will have to accept her share of responsibility.'

Last night some MPs suggested her comments could backfire, with one warning they could spark attacks on MPs.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is urging Mrs May to give Tory MPs a free vote next week in the hope of making it easier for Labour MPs to vote for the deal.

In other developments:

  • Jeremy Corbyn walked out of cross-party crisis talks with the Prime Minister last night in protest at the presence of ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna;
  • Reports from France suggested President Emmanuel Macron is ready to veto any request for a Brexit delay, meaning the UK will leave on March 29 with or without a deal;
  • Arch Remainer Dominic Grieve said he was 'ashamed' to be a Conservative and warned: 'We are going to spiral down into oblivion and the worst part of it all is that we will deserve it';
  • Mrs May held talks with opposition leaders in the hope of securing their support for a deal next week to prevent the UK crashing out;
  • The European Parliament's Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said: 'The only relevant question now is if Prime Minister May can muster a cross-party majority by next week';
  • The Liberal Democrats and SNP called for Parliament to prepare to revoke Article 50 'as a last resort';
  • European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned that the UK would have to hold elections to the European parliament if it wanted to delay beyond May 23;
  • Tory hardliners called for the Prime Minister to resign, with Peter Bone accusing her to her face of 'betraying the British people';
  • A SkyData poll found that 90 per cent of voters believe the Brexit negotiations have been a 'national humiliation'.

Mrs May's decision to rule out a long delay stunned Cabinet Remainers who believed she was ready to sign up to the proposal in order to remove the risk of No Deal. The decision was taken by the PM in the early hours of yesterday and released to the media before ministers were told.

It came a week after her deputy David Lidington told MPs: 'A short one-off extension would be downright reckless.'

A senior Remainer accused Mrs May of caving in to Brexiteer Cabinet ministers, who had threatened to quit rather than allow a long delay. The minister said: 'No Deal has got more likely. The ERG hardliners are never going to vote for it now because they have got the prospect of No Deal.'

Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the Conservatives, said: 'Why are we on bended knee to the EU begging for things we don't need?

'Next week should be a simple choice between her deal and No Deal. If it isn't then it will be a national humiliation.'

Another former leader, William Hague, warned that the chances of an imminent election were rising fast.

He also warned of a 'longer and longer' delay to Brexit.

Today's summit in Brussels now looks certain to set the stage for an historic and pivotal week in British politics as the Brexit endgame goes right down to the wire.

If no delay or deal is agreed with the EU before Friday, the law says Britain will leave without a deal – despite years of dire warnings about its impact on Britain.

If May's deal fails, the EU has not ruled out offering a longer delay but this would likely come with preconditions such as a second referendum. Alternatively they could choose to let the UK crash out of the bloc.

Donald Tusk made a short speech in Brussels today after speaking to Theresa May by telephone and following talks with EU leaders over the past week Donald Tusk made a short speech in Brussels today after speaking to Theresa May by telephone and following talks with EU leaders over the past week

Donald Tusk made a short speech in Brussels today after speaking to Theresa May by telephone and following talks with EU leaders over the past week

Theresa May finally admitted she had to ask the EU to delay Brexit - having said 108 times Britain would leave on March 29 Theresa May finally admitted she had to ask the EU to delay Brexit - having said 108 times Britain would leave on March 29

Theresa May finally admitted she had to ask the EU to delay Brexit – having said 108 times Britain would leave on March 29

A smiling Michael Gove leads a charge of Brexiteer cabinet ministers leaving Downing Street including Chris Grayling, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss (left to right) today after being summoned by Theresa May A smiling Michael Gove leads a charge of Brexiteer cabinet ministers leaving Downing Street including Chris Grayling, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss (left to right) today after being summoned by Theresa May

A smiling Michael Gove leads a charge of Brexiteer cabinet ministers leaving Downing Street including Chris Grayling, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss (left to right) today after being summoned by Theresa May

In the Commons at PMQs yesterday (pictured) Theresa May condemned MPs for 'navel gazing' over Europe and said their refusal to pass the deal was to blame for delay In the Commons at PMQs yesterday (pictured) Theresa May condemned MPs for 'navel gazing' over Europe and said their refusal to pass the deal was to blame for delay

In the Commons at PMQs yesterday (pictured) Theresa May condemned MPs for 'navel gazing' over Europe and said their refusal to pass the deal was to blame for delay

The Prime Minister's Brexit speech to the nation in full

The Prime Minister blamed for MPs for the country's Brexit chaos this evening The Prime Minister blamed for MPs for the country's Brexit chaos this evening

The Prime Minister blamed for MPs for the country's Brexit chaos this evening

The Prime Minister addressed the nation from Downing Street on Wednesday night. Here is what she said:

'Nearly three years have passed since the public voted to leave the European Union.

'It was the biggest democratic exercise in our country's history.

'I came to office on a promise to deliver on that verdict.

'In March 2017 I triggered the Article 50 process for the UK to exit the EU and Parliament supported it overwhelmingly.

'Two years on, MPs have been unable to agree on a way to implement the UK's withdrawal.

'As a result, we will now not leave on time with a deal on the 29th of March.

'This delay is a matter of great personal regret for me.

'And of this I am absolutely sure: You, the public, have had enough.

'You're tired of the infighting, you're tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children's schools, our National Health Service, knife crime.

'You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.

'It is now time for MPs to decide.

'So, today, I have written to Donald Tusk the President of the European Council to request a short extension of Article 50 up to the 30th of June to give MPs the time to make a final choice.

'Do they want to leave the EU with a deal which delivers on the result of the referendum, that takes control of our money borders and laws while protecting jobs and our national security?

'Do they want to leave without a deal, or do they not want to leave at all causing potentially irreparable damage to public trust not just in this generation of politicians but to our entire democratic process?

'It is high time we made a decision.

'So far, Parliament has done everything possible to avoid making a choice.

'Motion after motion and amendment after amendment has been tabled without Parliament ever deciding what it wants.

'All MPs have been willing to say is what they do not want.

'I passionately hope MPs will find a way to back the deal I've negotiated with the EU, a deal that delivers on the result of the referendum and is the very best deal negotiable.

'And I will continue to work night and day to secure the support of my colleagues, the DUP and others for this deal.

'But I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th of June.

'Some argue that I'm making the wrong choice and I should ask for a longer extension to the end of the year or beyond to give more time for politicians to argue over the way forward.

'That would mean asking you to vote in European elections nearly three years after our country decided to leave.

'What kind of message would that send? And just how bitter and divisive would that election campaign be at a time when the country desperately needs bringing back together.

'Some have suggested holding a second referendum.

'I don't believe that's what you want and it is not what I want.

'We asked you the question already and you've given us your answer.

'Now you want us to get on with it.

'And that is what I am determined to do.'

Jeremy Corbyn pulled out of talks with other opposition party leaders and the Prime Minister earlier last night after members of the breakaway Independent Group turned up to the meeting.

MAY PREPARES TO GIVE 'STORMONT LOCK' CONCESSION TO D.U.P.

By Jack Doyle, Associate Editor, for the Daily Mail

Theresa May is preparing to offer significant Brexit concessions to the DUP to win their support for her deal, it emerged last night.

In the coming days, the Prime Minister is expected to promise legislation for a 'Stormont Lock' – named after the parliament building in Belfast. It would give the Ulster assembly a veto over the decision to enter the backstop if Britain and the EU failed to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal. The lock could also guarantee that any Brussels regulations applied to Northern Ireland would be extended to the whole of the UK – to prevent the need for regulatory checks on goods passing between Great Britain and the province.

In her letter to Donald Tusk, the PM highlighted 'further domestic proposals' which would 'protect our internal market given the concerns expressed about the backstop'. The guarantee would be written into British law rather than the Withdrawal Agreement, which the EU has refused to reopen.

The assembly has been suspended since 2017 following a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

The support of the DUP would give Mrs May a huge boost. As well as securing ten votes from DUP MPs, it would also encourage several of the hardline Brexiteers to back her.

Chuka Umunna, the Independent Group spokesman, said it was 'extraordinary behaviour in a national crisis' by the Labour leader.

Government sources last night indicated Mrs May would make a third – and probably final – attempt to persuade MPs to approve her deal next week, possibly as soon as Monday.

Ministers still hope they can win the backing of the DUP and persuade more moderate Eurosceptics to back the deal. But they have all but abandoned hope of persuading the two dozen Brexit hardliners holding out for No Deal.

Instead they are focusing on Labour MPs, particularly those in Leave-supporting areas, who they believe might reluctantly back Mrs May's plan rather than allow the UK to crash out next week.

Last night some MPs suggested her comments could backfire, with one warning they could spark attacks on MPs.

Speaking in Brussels Mr Tusk said: 'In the light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days, I believe that a short extension would be possible.

'But it would be conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons. 'The question remains open as to the duration of such an extension.'

Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers were pictured leaving Downing Street in a seemingly jovial mood before Tusk's announcement amid claims some had threatened to resign last night if Mrs May had pushed for a delay of nine-months.

Their rebellion forced the PM to shelve plans to ask for a longer delay, while the Commons is seemingly still deadlocked with no majority for a deal.

Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk begging for a delay Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk begging for a delay Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk begging for a delay Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk begging for a delay

This is Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk begging for a delay and asking them for help to ensure her deal can be voted on for a third time after John Bercow made it 'impossible' not

Mr Tusk added: 'If the leaders approve my recommendations and there is a positive vote in the House of Commons next week, we can finalise and formalise the decision on extension in the written procedure.

'However, if there is such a need, I will not hesitate to invite the members of the European Council for a meeting to Brussels next week.'

Eurosceptics including Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox, Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt all left Downing Street together amid claims some had threatened to resign last night if Mrs May had pushed for a delay of nine-months.

The PM has also invited the leaders of the opposition parties including Jeremy Corbyn to discuss her Brexit delay at a 6pm meeting in Downing Street before heading back to Parliament to address her backbenchers and urge them to vote for her divorce.

But Remainers were less upbeat, with Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve QC warning the Government's credibility 'is running out'.

He said: 'When … the Prime Minister came to the despatch box today at PMQs, I confess I think it was the worst moment I have experienced since I came into the House of Commons.

'I have never felt more ashamed to be a member of the Conservative Party or to be asked to lend her support.'

He added: 'We really are, I'm sorry to say this, at the 11th hour and 59th minute, the Government's credibility is running out, trust in it is running out and unless … the Prime Minister by some great exertion of will, and she has plenty of will and plenty of robustness, stands up and starts doing something different, we are going to spiral down into oblivion and the worst part of it all is that we will deserve it.'

Some MPs reacted with frustration on Twitter after the Prime Minister announced she would attempt to extend Article 50 until June 30 and proposed a third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal.

Labour's former minister Yvette Cooper said Mrs May was 'in the worst state of denial'.

'Truly shocking,' she tweeted.

'This is a Prime Minister in the worst state of denial, refusing to listen to anyone, just still doing the same thing again and again, no plan B, heading stubbornly towards the cliff edge.'

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron claimed Parliament is 'dancing to the tune of extremists' rather than listening to ordinary people.

'And there's the problem in a nutshell – the PM listens to (Brexiteer Tory MP Peter) Bone not Britain. We are dancing to the tune of extremists, not listening to the people.

Mrs May abandoned her plan to ask the EU for a nine-month Brexit delay or longer after furious Brexiteer cabinet ministers threatened to quit and told her the Tory party would only accept a wait until June.

She appealed for the EU Council – which includes the leaders of all EU states – to formally adopt the three extra documents agreed with Mr Juncker last week to pass Mr Bercow's ruling on a new vote being on a 'substantially different' purpose.

Mrs May's letter said: 'If the motion is passed, I am confident that Parliament will proceed to ratify the deal constructively. But this will clearly not be completed before March 29, 2019.'

Admitting the timetable was 'uncertain' she said: 'I am therefore writing to inform the European Council that the UK is seeking an extension to the Article 50 until June 30 2019.'

But that prompted France to warn it might block any request by Theresa May to delay Brexit unless she can give EU leaders 'guarantees' that it will lead to MPs passing a withdrawal deal.

Mr Juncker (right) greeting European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today in Brussels. Both men have played a hard line on Britain's prospects of winning an extension to Article 50 from the EU Mr Juncker (right) greeting European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today in Brussels. Both men have played a hard line on Britain's prospects of winning an extension to Article 50 from the EU

Mr Juncker (right) greeting European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today in Brussels. Both men have played a hard line on Britain's prospects of winning an extension to Article 50 from the EU

So Brexit has come to this: As May pleads for a three month Brexit delay this is what happens next

What is May asking for at the summit tomorrow?

The Prime Minister wants the EU Council to rubberstamp the extra three documents she agreed with the EU Commission on the backstop last week.

She hopes this, combined with new promises at home on a role for the Northern Ireland Assembly, will be enough to convince John Bercow to allow a third vote on her deal.

Mrs May will ask the EU to give her a three month extension to deliver the deal with these commitments.

Will she get it?

Probably – but only on condition MPs pass the deal next week.

Donald Tusk announced today a short extension was 'possible' but that the details still needed to be hammered out.

There are tricky issues:

First, the bloc only wants a short extension to run until May 23 – the date of European Parliament elections in the UK. It will insist Britain is out of the bloc if it has no MEPs.

Second, it has said there must be a clear reason for delay. This could be time to implement the agreed deal or time for an election or referendum that might set a new path for Brexit.

How is Brexit delayed, if the EU agrees?

To change the law, the Government would have to get a law change through Parliament.

This can be done with a Statutory Instrument – a simple short piece of law – that tweaks the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 to change the current date to something else.

In an emergency, it could likely be got through the Commons and Lords in two days – and conceivably a single day assuming there were votes to win procedural changes.

What happens if Brussels says No?

This unlocks a number of possible scenarios.

First, Mrs May could come home and try and get her deal agreed by MPs anyway.

Second, she could accept her deal is dead and invite MPs to choose a different course.

Third, the Prime Minister could say Britain now has no choice but to leave the EU with no deal.

Will there be a second EU summit if there are no conclusions tomorrow?

Possibly. If the EU sends Mrs May home to come up with a concrete plan, they could agree to an emergency second summit next week.

Organised EU summits is difficult – it requires 28 national leaders to turn up – but the EU is eager for Britain to leave with a deal.

It means if Mrs May can get her deal through, leaders might reconvene to green light a short delay at the 11th hour. If she gets a Commons vote on an alternative plan, such as a referendum, she could ask them to meet again for a longer delay.

Will there be a third meaningful vote and if so when?

Mrs May has told the EU she wants a third vote 'as soon as possible' if they agree to give her a delay.

This now looks certain to be early next week – if Speaker John Bercow agrees. He has insisted a new motion must be 'substantially' different.

Mr Bercow alone will make this ruling and it is impossible to predict.

What happens if the deal is defeated again?

This also unlocks a number of possible consequences.

First, given the proximity of exit day a third defeat next week would dramatically raise the risk of a No Deal Brexit on Friday. This could easily trigger a vote of no confidence in the Government – forcing pro-EU Tories to choose between voting with Jeremy Corbyn or accepting No Deal.

Second, Mrs May has said if MPs continue rejecting the deal they will have to choose an alternative path. The Government would probably hold an indicative vote on the various options and hope for a longer delay at the last minute.

Third, Mrs May could simply resign and hand the mess over to someone else in acknowledgement her flagship policy has fallen to historic failure.

Fourth, if she already has a delay agreed by Brussels she could keep pressing on in the hope something comes up.

Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French parliament in Paris that Mrs May would need to make an incredibly strong case at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

Mr Le Drian told French MPs: 'A situation in which Mrs May would not be able to present to the European Council sufficient guarantees about the credibility of her strategy would lead to the extension request being dismissed and opting for a no-deal exit.'

Announcing she was seeking an extension to Article 50 to June 30, Mrs May told the Commons: 'The Government intends to bring forward proposals for a third meaningful vote.

'If that vote is passed the extension will give the House time to consider the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. If not, the House will have to decide how to proceed'.

Hinting at her own departure of her deal falls and Britain seeks a longer delay she added: 'As Prime Minister I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than June 30'.

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