Brexit: MPs won’t be able to use vote next week to stop no deal, Liam Fox claims – Politics live

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

The next big parliamentary vote on Brexit comes next week and last night there was good news for those who want to amend the government motion to force the government to rule out a no-deal Brexit. There are various amendments on the order paper designed to do this, and one of the main ones has been tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper. It would create time for MPs to debate her bill (pdf) saying Theresa May would have to seek an extension of article 50 until the end of the year if MPs have not approved a Brexit deal by 26 February. On Newsnight last night John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, all but announced that Labour will support the Cooper amendment. He said it was a “sensible proposal” and that it was “increasingly likely” that Labour would vote for it. Assuming the amendment gets called, given the number of rebel Tories in favour, this means it is highly likely to pass.

“Yvette Cooper has put an amendment down, which I think is sensible,” says Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell adding “it’s increasingly likely” Labour would back her amendment@johnmcdonnellMP | #newsnight

I don’t think it is possible to do it [block a no-deal Brexit] in the way that they suggest. Some of the amendments being spoken about, where the House of Commons would take control over the initiation of legislation - there’s a real danger here, and it’s a much bigger constitutional one.

We have an arrangement in our country where the executive - ie, the government of the day - puts forward legislation, parliament scrutinises it, parliament amends it, parliament can decide to pass it or not pass it. What is being suggested here is the House of Commons both initiates the legislation and scrutinises it, which is a huge change to our constitution. And the danger here is, you change our constitutional conventions for one reason, but it has huge consequences elsewhere. And in effect, in this motion, we are being asked to change it without any real debate about the constitutional significance.

I think there are many who talk about delaying Brexit when what they really mean is not having Brexit at all. And I think the worst outcome in this political process would be for parliament, having given a guarantee to the voters that they would honour the result of the referendum, to turn round and break that contract with the voters ...

I think the most dangerous thing for Britain, politically, is for Brexit to be denied to the British people when they were specifically promised it. I think it would open up a gulf of trust between parliament and the people that might be difficult to repair, and with unknowable consequences.

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Can Emmanuel Macron’s ‘great national debate’ save his presidency? | Guillaume Liegey

Talk of tax cuts and curbs to immigration will only go so far – the gilets jaunes protesters need to be listened to now

Earlier this month, in an open letter to French citizens, President Emmanuel Macron suggested that introducing immigration quotas might help address the gilets jaunes crisis. This predictably made many on the left cringe. It also brought to mind a Hillary Clinton interview in the Guardian last year, in which she gave her views on the root cause of rightwing populism. “I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” she said. Clinton argued that populists should be fought on their own ground and that liberal parties should develop a tougher line on immigration.

With Europe just months away from an EU parliamentary election, the urgent task is to burst the bubbles we live in

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Labour frontbenchers warn of opposition to second referendum

Senior Labour figures tell chief whip they will resign if pressed to support new Brexit vote

More than a dozen Labour frontbenchers have been to see the chief whip, Nick Brown, to issue a warning about the scale of opposition to the idea of a second Brexit referendum.

The shadow housing minister, Melanie Onn, and the shadow justice minister, Gloria De Piero, both of whom represent constituencies that voted leave in 2016, were among a delegation who went to urge Brown not to whip Labour MPs to back a “people’s vote”.

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We’ll never see a cross-party deal on Brexit: tribalism runs too deep | Rafael Behr

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are too set in their ways to put country before party

Imagination, agility, empathy, diplomacy – all the qualities of an effective negotiator that Theresa May lacks. She was unsuited to the task of getting a good deal in Brussels and now looks incapable of steering a bad deal through parliament. But the prime minister is not without skill. She has an exceptional ability to drain the drama from a crisis, to eke dullness out of an emergency. It is practically a superpower. Only May could make a live broadcast in a drastic breaking-news situation feel as missable as a daytime repeat. As one former Downing Street aide tells it, May has one political technique that she applies to every situation: “She just grinds you down.”

It seemed inconceivable that May would try to rehabilitate her Brexit plan after it was rejected in the biggest Commons defeat for a sitting government in modern times. MPs on all sides cheered the deal’s annihilation, believing that the scale of the shock would jolt the prime minister into a change of course. It has not. May returned to parliament this week looking like an earthquake survivor unable to take in the magnitude of the devastation, pottering numbly around a ruined house, rehanging pictures on half-collapsed walls, perching ornaments on the rubble that was once a mantelpiece.

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Tory hardliners reconsider May deal amid fears that Brexit could be blocked

Revised deal - including backstop concessions - could win support to see off ‘Europhile kamikaze MPs’

Tory Brexit supporters alarmed by the prospect of a delay to Brexit have hinted they could be won over in the coming weeks – if Theresa May can produce a serious concession from Brussels on the Irish backstop.

The numbers may not be enough for May to win enough support for her deal, given continued opposition from a hardcore of Brexiters who also object to the £39bn financial settlement, those with personal grudges against the prime minister and Tory remainers hoping to see a second referendum. However, some Brexiter MPs or those in seats which backed Brexit have suggested in recent days that there is a path to win their support.

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I hate doing my tax return – but I still love tax | Frances Ryan

Paying tax is deeply optimistic – it’s the idea of sharing our wealth to make things better for everyone

I’m sorry if this is rushed. I’m in the middle of my tax return and, frankly, if you’re not a gift aid calculation, I haven’t got time for you. Like many of the UK’s growing number of self-employed workers, with only a week to go until the online self-assessment deadline, I’m knee-deep, trying to get my finances in order. There’s a moment, usually two hours into trying to understand the national insurance classes, that I ponder how easy it would be to ship all my (tiny) holdings to the Cayman Islands.

Still, I love tax. In a political era in which the social fabric feels increasingly fragile, there’s something deeply optimistic about the idea that we each pay in collectively to support one another and build something greater than we could alone. In reality, of course, some of us are doing more than others. For some, tax is something to avoid.

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Owen Paterson trips worth £39,000 funded by unknown donors

Tory former minister’s trips including campaign for hard Brexit in US funded by donations to thinktank

Unknown donors have funded nearly £39,000 of trips by the former cabinet minister Owen Paterson by routing the funds through his personal thinktank.

The thinktank, which is called UK 2020, has been used to pay for 10 trips by the former environment secretary, including a visit to the US in November to campaign for a hard Brexit. He set up the thinktank in 2014 after leaving the cabinet.

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MPs on parental leave to be allowed proxy vote

Announcement follows outcry after MP delayed birth of her son to vote on Brexit deal

Proxy voting will be introduced to the House of Commons on a one-year pilot, Andrea Leadsom has announced.

It follows an outcry over the lack of support for the Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, who delayed the birth of her son by two days to vote against Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement.

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No-deal Brexit would mean hard Irish border, EU confirms

Spokesman says it is ‘pretty obvious’ border controls would be needed under no deal

Follow the latest political developments - live updates

The EU has confirmed it will enforce a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, despite the risk it would pose to peace.

In comments that will be highly uncomfortable for Dublin, Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief spokesman told reporters it was “pretty obvious” that border infrastructure would be necessary if the UK were to leave without deal.

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Brexit: May under pressure to allow ministers free vote on amendment to block no deal – Politics live

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

Karin Kneissl, the Austrian foreign minister, told the Today programme this morning that the Polish plan for the backstop to be limited to five years did not have general EU support. She explained:

We were all taken by surprise when the Polish minister made his statement.

We have had cohesion and we wish to continue having cohesion on the EU27 position, so the statement by our Polish colleague came as a surprise, but I don’t believe that it will cause some sort of breakthrough, certainly not because if we start having all kinds of bilateral suggestions it doesn’t lead us anywhere.

The BBC’s Norman Smith has got what could be some very bad news for parliamentary journalists.

Bang goes Le Weekend ? Minister tells me Commons will have to sit through Feb recess and weekends to get Brexit done by March 29.

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‘Transparency and fairness’: Irish readers on why the Citizens’ Assembly worked

Ireland’s assembly of 99 citizens found consensus on emotive issues – a model readers think could help the Brexit process

While the Brexit debacle rumbles ever on, several outcomes are on the table, including the possibility of a second referendum. Some, including this newspaper, have suggested that if a second referendum were to happen, a way forward could be for the UK to follow the model adopted by Ireland to try and break the stalemate over an emotive issue that had dogged its politics for decades: abortion.

Related: I took part in a citizens' assembly – it could help break the Brexit deadlock | Louise Caldwell

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State education is a Cinderella service and both the Tories and Labour are to blame | Fiona Millar

A national education service, like an NHS, should be part
of a civilised country’s DNA

Here is a little fantasy to mull over as 2019 gets under way. Imagine that someone in power outlined a plan to work with the public, parents, teachers, heads and governors to establish common values for the education system.

The architects of the plan would provide extra cash to implement any changes required by this shared endeavour, aimed at securing continuous improvement while reducing inequality, supporting staff and addressing workload issues. Unrealistic?

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North-east England will be hit hardest by no-deal Brexit, says CBI

Business lobby group provides region-by-region breakdown of potential damage

North-east England would suffer the biggest decline in economic output of any UK region by the middle of the 2030s if the country leaves the EU without a deal, according to an analysis of government figures by Britain’s leading business lobby group.

The Confederation of British Industry said the region could be among the hardest hit by a no-deal Brexit in less than 70 days’ time given the high percentage of exports of goods to the EU compared with other parts of the country.

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Labour calls for vote in Commons on holding second referendum

Proposed amendment is significant shift in policy towards people’s vote on Brexit

Labour has said the Commons should be able to vote on whether to hold a second referendum in an amendment the party submitted on Monday night to Theresa May’s Brexit update.

It is the first time the party has asked MPs to formally consider a second poll, although the carefully worded compromise amendment did not commit the party’s leadership to backing a referendum if such a vote were to take place.

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May claims second referendum on Brexit would threaten UK’s ‘social cohesion’

The PM faces a looming revolt over a no-deal Brexit as Corbyn criticises her talks as ‘PR sham’

Theresa May doubled down on her opposition to a second Brexit referendum last night, claiming it would threaten Britain’s “social cohesion” and insisting the centrepiece of her strategy remained negotiating changes to the Irish backstop.

With just 67 days to go until Britain is due by law to leave the European Union, May exasperated MPs and business groups by offering scant evidence that she is willing to change course.

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No-deal Brexit is a Dad’s Army parody and I refuse to stockpile | Polly Toynbee

Beyond the stubbornness and the myths, a bald fact remains: there are enough wise heads in parliament to see off disaster

Plan B? No, just B for Back to Brussels to Beg a Better Backstop, not even Botoxing her old plan A. Theresa May does not surprise. Wild rumours that she might dash for another election or resign mid-crisis fooled no one. Why expect better? If she pretended to listen to flotillas of visitors imploring her to see sense, change course, stop the madness, then she wore earplugs. Of course nothing changed. However, she has every reason for intransigence, strapped to her pilot seat, clamped in irons. Move an inch on the customs union, soften a red line and she would haemorrhage Tory MPs, winning few from Labour. Kate Hoey may cavort at Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Bollinger bash at his home to celebrate May’s 230-vote defeat, but entices no fellow Labour MPs.

As the captive prime-minister-in-name-only runs the clock down closer to a nuclear no deal, how terrified should we be? Pay attention when her own business minister, Richard Harrington MP, warns that it would be such an “absolute disaster” that he would resign, warning of car industry collapse if supply chains were cut. Some cabinet ministers would walk, too, rather than take the blame for needless carnage. Every day brings more bad news: the International Air Transport Association warns that 5m sold airline tickets could be cancelled: no deal means no extra flights above last year’s quota.

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Question Time is broken – here are five ways to fix it

We live in serious times, yet the BBC’s flagship political debate show is filled with whooping mobs looking for confrontation. This is what needs to be done

The blistering row over the treatment of Diane Abbott on last week’s BBC Question Time has put it back where channel bosses most like it to be: at the centre of attention. The Labour party has made a formal complaint after one audience member’s complaint on Twitter went viral.

It is true that the initial critic was Jyoti Wilkinson, a staffer for the Labour MP Chris Williamson, but his allegations are serious. He claims that during the show’s warm-up, Fiona Bruce, the new presenter, made remarks that legitimised racist abuse. Later, on air, it was claimed Bruce interrupted Abbott more often than any other panellist. Bruce also inaccurately contradicted Abbott’s statement that Labour and the Tories were level-pegging in the polls.

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