EU is set to insist on a YEAR Brexit delay with a ‘stop Boris’ clause

Theresa May has been in Berlin to beg Angela Merkel for a short delay to Brexit – but the 27 EU member nations are set to impose a year-long extension with heavy restrictions including a ‘Boris-proof’ clause. 

The crucial emergency summit got off to a bad start when Mrs May arrived to find nobody waiting for her on the red carpet after Mrs Merkel, who normally greets guests on arrival, was still inside today.  

And later the pair had a frosty-looking exchange on a balcony overlooking Berlin’s Tiergarten, although the German Chancellor was smiling when she waved off the Prime Minister as she heads to Paris to meet Emmanuel Macron.

The PM is hoping that her cross-party talks with Labour will convince EU leaders to give her a short extension to Article 50 at a summit in Brussels in Wednesday, before Britain leaves the bloc with No Deal by default on Friday. 

Mrs May met Mrs Merkel before flying on to Paris for talks with Macron this evening, where the French President will reportedly climb down from his No Deal threat but tell her Britain must leave by Christmas this year. 

Discussions with Jeremy Corbyn do not appear to be making any progress with minister Dr Liam Fox warning Mrs May that the customs union with the EU Labour is demanding would be the ‘worst of both worlds’ and EU leaders are growing tired of repeated extension requests.  

At an EU meeting in Luxembourg today Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Sweden and Hungary said they would back a Brexit extension. But France and even Greece, whose economy was bailed out three times since 2008, said they are worried about the ‘credibility’ of the EU if Britain gets a long extension. 

At home she is also facing a growing Cabinet revolt, with Andrea Leadsom openly challenging the PM’s authority this morning by saying Merkel should make changes to the Irish border backstop – which the EU has repeatedly refused to do. 

EU leaders are preparing to impose a long delay to Brexit until around March 2020, are fearful that a new Brexiteer Prime Minister, such as Boris Johnson, could cause havoc within the EU during this time.

To counter this threat, the EU will ‘Boris-proof’ any Brexit delay and refuse to let the UK have any say in future EU budget talks and trade deals until Britain leaves, it was revealed today. 

An EU diplomat told The Times: ‘If there is a wild Brexiteer as a new Tory PM, they would be able to do nothing until after March 31, 2020, unless they subscribe to the withdrawal agreement. We will simply not hold talks. If a new British leader refuses these terms it will simply be ‘no deal’ on the date with plenty of time for us to prepare.’    

Merkel and May looked serious as they spoke privately on the Chancellery terrace overlooking Berlin's Spree river and the German capital's famous Tiergarten as the PM asked the German leader to support her shorter extension

Merkel and May looked serious as they spoke privately on the Chancellery terrace overlooking Berlin's Spree river and the German capital's famous Tiergarten as the PM asked the German leader to support her shorter extension

Merkel and May looked serious as they spoke privately on the Chancellery terrace overlooking Berlin’s Spree river and the German capital’s famous Tiergarten as the PM asked the German leader to support her shorter extension

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Prime Minister Theresa May as she arrives at the Chancellery in Berlin for emergency Brexit talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Prime Minister Theresa May as she arrives at the Chancellery in Berlin for emergency Brexit talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Prime Minister Theresa May as she arrives at the Chancellery in Berlin for emergency Brexit talks

Merkel and May discussed Brexit as well as the troubles in Yeman and Libya but officials have said the details will remain 'confidential'

Merkel and May discussed Brexit as well as the troubles in Yeman and Libya but officials have said the details will remain 'confidential'

Merkel and May discussed Brexit as well as the troubles in Yeman and Libya but officials have said the details will remain ‘confidential’

The world leaders hugged and kissed as the PM left the German capital with critics in the UK saying that Mrs May's European tour to beg for a Brexit delay is a 'humiliation'

The world leaders hugged and kissed as the PM left the German capital with critics in the UK saying that Mrs May's European tour to beg for a Brexit delay is a 'humiliation'

The world leaders hugged and kissed as the PM left the German capital with critics in the UK saying that Mrs May’s European tour to beg for a Brexit delay is a ‘humiliation’

Mrs Merkel gave a cheery wave to the PM having failed to be waiting for her on the red carpet when she arrived this morning

Mrs Merkel gave a cheery wave to the PM having failed to be waiting for her on the red carpet when she arrived this morning

Mrs Merkel gave a cheery wave to the PM having failed to be waiting for her on the red carpet when she arrived this morning

With the country headed for a lengthy Brexit delay, senior cabinet member Andrea Leadsom has gone rogue by urging Mrs May to beg Angela Merkel to re-open the Brexit deal and change the Irish backstop – which the PM and the EU has repeatedly said is impossible.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WITH BREXIT?

TUESDAY APRIL 9: PM’S EUROPEAN TOUR 

The Prime Minister will fly to meet Angela Merkel in Berlin and then on to Paris to see Emmanuel Macron as she tried to convince European leaders to back her plea to extend Article 50 until June 30.

Donald Tusk says EU leaders should demand a delay until March 31, 2020 – but Mr Macron is said to be considering forcing the UK out of the EU unless they face ‘strict’ conditions. 

WEDNESDAY APRIL 10: EU SUMMIT

Another summit with EU leaders – where May will ask for a new delay beyond April 12. 

May’s new plan is to strike a cross-party consensus in London and persuade EU leaders it means the deal can be delivered in time for Brexit on May 22.

She may have to accept a longer extension that means holding EU elections, as Brussels has made clear this is a red line – and will take a decision on delay without Britain and it must be unanimous. 

EU officials including Michel Barnier have warned that the risk of an accidental No Deal is increasing if May arrives with no plan.

FRIDAY APRIL 12: BREXIT DAY

Britain is due to leave the EU without a deal on this date if no delay is agreed. 

She said: ‘I think would be fantastic is if Angela Merkel will try to support a proper UK Brexit by agreeing to reopen the withdrawal agreement. There have been rumours over the weekend that some senior members of the German government would be willing to do that in order to get Theresa May’s deal over the line’. 

But an hour later the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: ‘The withdrawal agreement is not going to be reopened’. 

Theresa May fired the starting gun on Britain’s participation in the European Parliament elections last night. Government officials formally triggered the elections for May 23 – at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £108million – while the Tories launched a search for candidates.

Only last month, the Prime Minister said it would be ‘unacceptable’ to take part in the poll, almost three years after the vote to leave the EU.

It is the clearest indication yet that Britain is facing a lengthy delay to Brexit, probably until the end of the year or possibly even longer.

Brexit talks with Labour will resume today despite a growing Tory backlash over the prospect of a compromise deal with Jeremy Corbyn, who also wants the PM to ‘Boris-proof’ any concessions.

The Tories are said to have agreed in principle to accept Labour demands that Britain will accept any new EU employment, environmental and consumer laws post-Brexit. 

But Mrs May has not yet budged on accepting a full customs union, although she is apparently close to agreeing to letting MPs vote on whether to hold a second referendum.

The Prime Minister is touring European capitals including Berlin and Paris instead ahead of an EU summit on Wednesday.  

May is asking the EU to delay Brexit until June 30, but she faces stiff resistance from EU leaders – especially Macron – who are growing tired of repeated delay requests and fear that Eurosceptic British politicians will try to wreck the EU from the inside if the UK stays in. 

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell arrive at the Cabinet Office for Brexit talks with the Tories today

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell arrive at the Cabinet Office for Brexit talks with the Tories today

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell arrive at the Cabinet Office for Brexit talks with the Tories today

The summit on Wednesday in Brussels will decide whether Britain leaves the EU with No Deal by default on Friday, or a longer delay is granted. 

Cabinet Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom stabs May in the back by demanding Merkel supports a ‘proper Brexit’

Andrea Leadsom (pictured today) defied Theresa May and signalled a new Brexiteer revolt today as she urged the Prime Minister to use a trip to Berlin to demand a ‘proper Brexit’

Andrea Leadsom defied Theresa May and signalled a new Brexiteer revolt today as she urged the Prime Minister to use a trip to Berlin to demand a ‘proper Brexit‘.

The Commons Leader said Mrs May should tell Angela Merkel to make the EU re-write the Brexit divorce deal and tear up the Irish border backstop.

Following the first hammering of her deal, Mrs May asked the EU to reopen the deal to change the backstop – a provision designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland even if UK-EU trade talks fail – and was rebuffed.

Mrs Merkel herself has repeatedly said the deal, negotiated over the past two years, cannot be renegotiated – a position Mrs May has publicly accepted. 

But Mrs Leadsom went rogue today and insisted she had heard ‘rumours’ the German government might finally be prepared to budge at the 11th hour.

In a further escalation of a Brexiteer revolt, Trade Secretary Liam Fox wrote to Tory MPs to insist a permanent customs union with the EU would be the ‘worst of both worlds’.  

Mr Macron wants to turn the screw on the UK by demanding ‘strict’ conditions if Article 50 is extended at a Brussels summit on Wednesday – or he will push for No Deal at 11pm on Friday.  

Opinions on what Brussels should offer the UK differ – alongside Macron’s hardline, Jean Claude Juncker and Ireland are pushing for a year-long ‘flextension’ to March 31 2020 and May requesting a short delay to June 30. 

French president Emmanuel Macron is ready to tell Mrs May and the EU that Brexit cannot be delayed beyond December 2019, according to Buzzfeed News.

He will also demand ‘compliance checks’ on Britain every three months until then, with the threat of tearing up the extension if the EU is unhappy with Britain’s behaviour.

Macron could still choose to say ‘non’ to Mrs May, as General Charles de Gaulle of France did twice when he vetoed Britain’s bid to join the EEC in the 1960s.

At the time it was claimed that de Gaulle was getting his own back for the wartime occasions when he had been snubbed by Churchill.

He argued that Britain was too subservient to its transatlantic alliance to be a loyal part of what he saw as a new European economic and political force. General de Gaulle resigned in 1969 – and Britain joined the EEC in 1973.

Yesterday ERG rebel Mark Francois today wrote a letter to 1922 Committee chairman Ian Brady demanding a vote of no confidence in Mrs May’s leadership on Wednesday at 3pm – just as she arrives in Brussels.

Mr Francois, a former TA officer who described his time as Europe minister as ‘his tour’, said today: ‘I believe May has been a failure as Leader of our Party, which she now threatens to destroy.

‘Hers is a classic example of hubris – and after hubris, comes nemesis and after nemesis comes psoriasis, the reason we’re itching to leave Europe’.

Theresa May leaves Downing Street to head to Germany and then France where she will meet with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for talks, four days before the UK is due to leave the EU

Theresa May leaves Downing Street to head to Germany and then France where she will meet with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for talks, four days before the UK is due to leave the EU

Theresa May leaves Downing Street to head to Germany and then France where she will meet with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for talks, four days before the UK is due to leave the EU

Philip May looked pensive as he waved off his wife on her European tour as she tries to delay Brexit yet again

Philip May looked pensive as he waved off his wife on her European tour as she tries to delay Brexit yet again

Philip May looked pensive as he waved off his wife on her European tour as she tries to delay Brexit yet again

An email (left) sent this evening by Tory head of candidates Gareth Fox said Britain would take part in the European elections

An email (left) sent this evening by Tory head of candidates Gareth Fox said Britain would take part in the European elections

But party chairman Brandon Lewis then rowed back on his remarks

But party chairman Brandon Lewis then rowed back on his remarks

An email (left) sent this evening by Tory head of candidates Gareth Fox said Britain would take part in the European elections. But party chairman Brandon Lewis then rowed back on his remarks (right)

IMF warns of two-year recession in Britain if there is a No Deal Brexit 

A No Derl Brexit could cut the UK’s predicted GDP by 3.5% by 2021 and spark a recession, experts said today.

Britain crashing out of the EU would leave the country’s potential output almost 3 per cent lower in the long term, the International Monetary Fund has warned. 

In its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook, the global organisation downgraded last October’s forecast for UK GDP growth from 1.5% to 1.2% for 2019 and from 1.5% to 1.4% for 2020.

But if this was cut by 3% in the event of No Deal it would send Britain into recession, the IMF figures show.  

A No Deal departure from the EU which severely disrupts supply chains and raises trade costs would have ‘large and long-lasting negative impacts’ on the UK and EU economies, with Britain the hardest hit, said the IMF. 

But it warned that the forecasts assume an orderly withdrawal from the EU with a deal and a gradual transition to the new regime. 

The actual outcome is ‘surrounded by uncertainty’ over whether a deal will be reached, it said.

A formal vote of confidence in Mrs May as Conservative leader cannot be held until December, after she survived an earlier attempt to oust her by 200 votes to 117, granting her a 12-month period of grace during which no challenge is permitted. 

Sir Graham said the 1922 Committee had no intention of agreeing to Mr Francois’s proposal. ‘There is no intention of proceeding,’ he said.

Other Tory backbenchers reportedly told Mrs May that she is now ‘the problem’ and demanded she stand down. Members of the 1922 Committee met Mrs May in Downing Street and told her that party supporters had turned against her over the weekend.

The Daily Telegraph claimed Mrs May received the MPs in silence and would not discuss her future when the backbenchers said she was causing ‘damage’ to the party. 

After four days of inaction, senior figures including Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer are expected to resume face-to-face talks in the hope of identifying a Brexit compromise.

Mr Corbyn last night struck a gloomy note, accusing Mrs May of refusing to abandon key elements of her deal.

The Labour leader said: ‘We are prepared to talk and put forward our view, but talks have to mean a movement and so far there has been no change in those red lines.’

Last night it was claimed Mrs May was considering whether to take the dramatic step of offering MPs a separate vote on whether to hold a second referendum, in a bid to unblock the deal with Labour.

Sir Keir told Labour MPs at a private meeting that ministers had not yet given in to the party’s central demand that the UK must join a permanent customs union.

He said Mrs May was still of a ‘mindset’ that her deal effectively delivered a customs union ‘if only we looked a bit harder’.

However, Tory sources insisted a cross-party deal was still possible. ‘We’re a million miles from this thing collapsing,’ said one source familiar with the talks.

The Prime Minister warned last week that a deal with Labour might be the ‘only way’ to secure an orderly Brexit next month, after MPs voted to reject her own plans for a third time. She had hoped that a deal would be in place in time for her to present to EU leaders at an emergency summit in Brussels.

The two sides are said to be close to agreement on a deal that would ensure the UK remains in step with EU laws on workers’ rights and the environment after Brexit. But there is no agreement yet on possible customs arrangements.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Theresa May to Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Theresa May to Berlin

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron

Theresa May trips to Berlin and Paris today are to beg for an Article 50 extension but German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to say that the price is Britain losing many of its powers 

And Brexiteer ministers are urging Mrs May to reject Labour’s demand to place a ‘Boris lock’ on any soft Brexit compromise, which would prevent a future Tory leader tearing it up.

What are the European Parliament elections and why do they cost £108m?

Elections to the European Parliament take place every five years. 

The last election in 2014 cost £108 million to hold and it is expected it will cost a similar amount to the taxpayer this time around if we take part. 

The UK currently returns 73 MEPs from 12 electoral regions to a parliament with 751 members that sits alternately in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The system used to pick MEPs is different from that used for Westminster elections, where you vote for one candidate who represents a specific constituency’.

Instead several forms of proportional representation are used, so between three and 10 MEPs are picked in each of the 12 UK regions and represent every one of the people in them. 

At the moment the UK’s 73 MEPs consist of 19 Labour, 18 Tory, ten independents, seven Ukip, seven Brexit Party, three Greens, two SNP and one each for the Lib Dems, Ulster Unionists, Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru and the Social Democratic Party. 

There is also one vacant seat.

A Tory source said Commons leader Andrea Leadsom clashed with Mrs May over the issue yesterday during talks in No10 with ministers, including Liz Truss, Liam Fox and Michael Gove.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland said Mrs May was right to seek a deal with Mr Corbyn and predicted: ‘Something approximating a customs arrangement or customs union would be the most likely outcome.’ And former Tory minister Nick Boles said there was a ‘pretty reasonable chance of a deal’, adding: ‘On the substance they’re quite a lot closer than perhaps people might imagine.’

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, said the political declaration could be amended ‘extremely quickly’ if necessary to include a customs union.

But senior ministers continued to warn against signing up to such a deal. Asked if the Government was poised to agree a customs union, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox replied ‘no’.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the talks with Labour were ‘not the only show in town’, adding: ‘I have always believed that a customs union was not the best deal for the UK.’

Boris Johnson said: ‘If the UK were to commit to remaining in the customs union, it would make a total and utter nonsense of the referendum result. To agree to be non-voting members of the EU, under the surrender proposed by Jeremy Corbyn cannot, must not and will not happen.’

Rebecca Long-Bailey has said that the talks Labour had discussed how any changes to the Brexit agreement ‘could be entrenched’ so that any potential future Conservative leader, such as Boris Johnson, would not be able to ‘rip up’ any compromise – a so-called ‘Boris-proof’ deal.

She said a customs union was ‘defined in international law’ and ‘the proposals we have seen from the Government so far and their direction of travel over the last two years have not been compliant with the definition of a customs union’.

 

John McDonnell says Labour WILL demand a ‘Boris Lock’ to prevent a Brexit deal being undone by a new Brexiteer Tory leader but will only discuss a second referendum with ministers today … if there is time

John McDonnell today said Labour is actively seeking a way to stop a Brexit deal being unpicked by a hardline future Tory leader like Boris Johnson.

Speaking before he joined talks between the Government and the opposition the shadow chancellor revealed that discussions would include how to ‘secure any deal that comes forward in the long term’.

He told reporters in Westminster that they were seeking a so-called ‘Boris Lock’ be introduced ‘in the light of statements over the last week that any softer Brexit deal would be overturned or reversed.

He told reporters: ‘It’s been raised twice now in the meetings so this is the third occasion it is being raised, simply saying assurances given so far around this don’t seem to meet what we are aiming for, given a climate that has created as a result of statements by the Attorney General (Geoffrey Cox), Boris Johnson – a potential leadership candidate, God help us – and then also Jacob Rees-Mogg obviously speaking on behalf of the ERG (European Research Group).

‘So some of that discussion that will take place will be about how any deal is secure for the long-term and how best to secure that through either domestic legislation or treaty.’

As well as the Boris Lock talks today will also focus on the a customs union, and environmental and workers rights.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove is among those due to take a leading role in the talks, which will also be attended by Chancellor Philip Hammond 

But in comments that will fan the flames of Labour’s internal row over Brexit, Mr McDonnell said that a confirmatory referendum was also due to be discussed but there might not be time to do so.

‘It is on the agenda, whether we reach it we will see,’ he said.

Mr McDonnell (far right) arrived for talks this lunchtime with fellow Labour frontbenchers (right to left) Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer and Sue Hayman

Mr McDonnell (far right) arrived for talks this lunchtime with fellow Labour frontbenchers (right to left) Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer and Sue Hayman

Mr McDonnell (far right) arrived for talks this lunchtime with fellow Labour frontbenchers (right to left) Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer and Sue Hayman

Talks will include ways to secure any softer Brexit deal against being unpicked by a hardline Brexiteer future Prime Minister, with Boris Johnson (pictured today) among the frontrunners

Talks will include ways to secure any softer Brexit deal against being unpicked by a hardline Brexiteer future Prime Minister, with Boris Johnson (pictured today) among the frontrunners

Talks will include ways to secure any softer Brexit deal against being unpicked by a hardline Brexiteer future Prime Minister, with Boris Johnson (pictured today) among the frontrunners

Earlier a  senior Cabinet minister had warned Theresa May that any plan to offer a customs union with the EU as a way to break the Brexit deadlock would be the ‘worst of both worlds’.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox – whose role would be largely redundant if the UK stayed closely aligned to Brussels – hit out in a letter to senior backbench Tories.

What is a customs union and what could happen if we are in one after Brexit?

The customs union has emerged as possibly the last crucial battleground in the political war over Brexit.

The customs arrangements could decide the fate of the overall deal – as the UK has already said it will ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. 

But it has proved a major bone of contention for Brexiteers, with many publicly and privately voicing their fury at it. 

The are furious that adopting one would keep us far too closely aligned with Brussels but without any say over our international trade policy.

What is the EU customs union?

The customs union allows the EU states to exchange goods without tariffs, and impose common tariffs on imports from outside the bloc.  

But they also prevent countries from striking deals outside the union on their own.

Theresa May has repeatedly made clear that the UK will be leaving the customs union, while Labour says it wants to replicate it but without being in it.

How would that work? 

Some MPs and the Labour leadership have raised the idea of creating a new customs union with the EU.

This could be looser than the existing arrangements, but still allow tariff free trade with the bloc. 

Labour’s alternative plan also suggested that it would also be possible to be in a customs union and influence EU trade deals.

However this is against EU law and the party  has not explained how this would work.

Many Eurosceptics believe it is impossible to be in a union without hampering the UK’s ability to strike trade deals elsewhere.

They also complain that it would mean accepting the EU’s ‘protectionist’ tariffs against other parts of the world in areas like agriculture.

The most high profile of these is International Trade Secretary Liam Fox – whose job would be pointless if we were in a customs union.

The PM has also ruled out this option but there are signs that she is wavering as she seeks a way out of the current Brexit chaos engulfing Westminster.

Dr Fox, a Brexiteer who has faithfully backed the Prime Minister’s ill-faited Brexit deal, laid out his opposition in a brutally blunt letter revealed by the Daily Telegraph

But Mr McDonnell said that there had been ‘no movement’ on a customs union so far. 

It came as Theresa May conducted high levels talks with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in Paris and Berlin, amid anger at the direction of Brexit from eurosceptic hardliners in her own party and Cabinet. 

Mrs May’s reported offer to let MPs vote on holding a second referendum has infuriated MPs already raging over the fact that she is talking to the opposition at all, according to the Daily Telegraph

Writing to the committee of the 1922 Committee, Dr Fox said: ‘We would be stuck in the worst of both worlds, not only unable to set our own international trade policy but subject, without representation, to the policy of an entity over which MPs would have no democratic control.

‘This is something that Labour do not presently seem to understand. As I said at the meeting, in such a scenario the UK would have a new role in the global trading system.

‘We would ourselves be traded. As the famous saying in Brussels goes, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.’

Labour’s Jo Stevens MP, a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said: ‘Liam Fox’s letter shows why it is essential that any alternative Brexit deal is subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny and not simply rammed through the House of Commons to meet an arbitrary deadline. 

‘There must be no Westminster stitch-up on a decision so important to the country’s future.’ 

Hard left Labour leader Mr Corbyn has called on the Government to be more flexible regarding red line issues in the talks. 

But so far he has resisted strong calls from backbenchers and members of his shadow cabinet to demand a second referendum as the price of his support for the Government.

After officials from the two sides met on Monday, the fresh round of talks will include Chancellor Philip Hammond and his opposite number John McDonnell, plus Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Mrs May’s de facto deputy, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer.

Senior backbench Tories visited Mrs May in Downing Street on Monday and it is understood concern was expressed about the possibility of agreeing to a customs union as a price for a deal with Labour.

And in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph, Tory grandee William Hague said the talks were ‘akin to having a dinner date with a crocodile’.

Lord Hague wrote: ‘It is difficult in any case to see how carrying through the programme of Brexit procedures and laws could be sustained by an agreement between part of the Conservative Party and the bulk of the Labour Party – the Government would be highly likely to collapse under such a strain.’

It came as an aide to Chancellor Philip Hammond said he is ready to defy the whips by addressing a People’s Vote campaign rally.

Huw Merriman said it was ‘likely’ his appearance at the event in London on Tuesday would cost him his job as an unpaid parliamentary private secretary.

The MP for Bexhill and Battle – who backs Theresa May’s Brexit deal – said he wanted to use the event to explain why he supported a confirmatory referendum on the agreement in last week’s ‘indicative’ votes in the Commons.

Treasury aide Huw Merriman will speak at a People's Vote event today, saying that if it led to his sacking it would be the 'politics of the madhouse'

Treasury aide Huw Merriman will speak at a People's Vote event today, saying that if it led to his sacking it would be the 'politics of the madhouse'

Treasury aide Huw Merriman will speak at a People’s Vote event today, saying that if it led to his sacking it would be the ‘politics of the madhouse’

‘It has been made clear to me that is not Government policy. My issue with that is that a week ago we were given free votes and I was allowed to vote for this concept of putting the Prime Minister’s deal back to the people to get it through,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘If I then get sacked for actually explaining the way I voted in a free vote, that to me would be a new low in democracy.

‘It would be nonsensical for me to be given a free vote, to be allowed to vote the way I wish to vote, but then to explain it I would lose my position. 

‘That’s politics of the madhouse and I am just not willing to go along with that.’ 

The Prime Minister is hoping that her cross-party talks with Labour will convince EU leaders to give her a short extension to Article 50 at a summit in Brussels in Wednesday, before Britain leaves the bloc with No Deal by default on Friday. 

However the discussions with Jeremy Corbyn do not appear to be making any progress and EU leaders are growing tired of repeated extension requests.

They are preparing to impose a long delay to Brexit until around March 2020, are fearful that a new Brexiteer Prime Minister, such as Boris Johnson, could cause havoc within the EU during this time.

To counter this threat, the EU will ‘Boris-proof’ any Brexit delay and refuse to let the UK have any say in future EU budget talks and trade deals until Britain leaves, it was revealed today.

An EU diplomat told The Times: ‘If there is a wild Brexiteer as a new Tory PM, they would be able to do nothing until after March 31, 2020, unless they subscribe to the withdrawal agreement. We will simply not hold talks. If a new British leader refuses these terms it will simply be ‘no deal’ on the date with plenty of time for us to prepare.’

With the country headed for a lengthy Brexit delay, senior cabinet member Andrea Leadsom has gone rogue by urging Mrs May to beg Angela Merkel to re-open the Brexit deal and change the Irish backstop – which the PM and the EU has repeatedly said is impossible.

She said: ‘I think would be fantastic is if Angela Merkel will try to support a proper UK Brexit by agreeing to reopen the withdrawal agreement. There have been rumours over the weekend that some senior members of the German government would be willing to do that in order to get Theresa May’s deal over the line’.

Theresa May fired the starting gun on Britain’s participation in the European Parliament elections last night. Government officials formally triggered the elections for May 23 – at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £108million – while the Tories launched a search for candidates.

JACK DOYLE: So what DOES Labour want from Theresa in return for their backing on Brexit? 

Customs Union

Until now, Theresa May has said the UK will leave the European Union‘s customs union.

The customs union eliminates duties – or tariffs – between member states, while EU countries impose a common external tariff on imports from non-members.

But the customs union also allows the EU to strike trade deals on behalf of all its members.

The Prime Minister made leaving the customs union a ‘red line’ in her negotiations due to her desire to strike independent trade deals with other countries – such as the USA.

eremy Corbyn wants a permanent customs union. He says it will help protect existing trade between the UK and EU, in particular that of manufactured goods which relies on complex supply chains – links which can break down if goods are delayed at the border

eremy Corbyn wants a permanent customs union. He says it will help protect existing trade between the UK and EU, in particular that of manufactured goods which relies on complex supply chains – links which can break down if goods are delayed at the border

eremy Corbyn wants a permanent customs union. He says it will help protect existing trade between the UK and EU, in particular that of manufactured goods which relies on complex supply chains – links which can break down if goods are delayed at the border

Remaining in the union would stop this because the UK would be barred from reducing its tariffs on imported goods from other countries.

They could only strike deals in the services sector – however this does make up a vast part of the modern UK economy.

Jeremy Corbyn wants a permanent customs union. He says it will help protect existing trade between the UK and EU, in particular that of manufactured goods which relies on complex supply chains – links which can break down if goods are delayed at the border.

Labour also says that remaining in the customs union will help keep trade flowing freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic without the need for the so-called ‘backstop’.

Mr Corbyn claims his proposal does include the UK having a say on future trade deals negotiated by the EU and affecting the UK. But this is something Brussels has apparently ruled out.

Despite all this, senior Tory ministers were out in force yesterday preparing the ground for a customs union compromise. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox argued that the customs union might be needed to get out – claiming the UK could leave at a later point and a customs union would not be a ‘permanent straitjacket’.

Employment rights

Under Mrs May’s deal, the UK agrees not to row back on existing EU rules on workers’ rights – such as the Working Time Directive which limits working hours – after we leave.

But Mr Corbyn wants to go further and is demanding ‘dynamic alignment’ – meaning any future government would agree to accept any employment laws and trade union rules passed by the EU in future, regardless of Parliament’s wishes. So what if the EU agreed to a four-day working week, or passed other regulations which would erode competitiveness?

Mrs May claims to be a champion of workers’ rights, so this is an area she could argue is consistent with her approach, even if it limits the UK’s ability to set its own course in future because we are tied to Brussels diktats.

Free movement

In theory, the parties are not far apart on free movement – one of the central issues of the referendum campaign.

Vast numbers of Labour voters backed Leave because they oppose uncontrolled immigration. This was reflected in Labour’s manifesto which said free movement will end after we leave.

For Mrs May, ending free movement is her reddest of red lines. But Labour policy on what migration policy should replace free movement is significantly more liberal than Tory policy. In particular, the Opposition is against the proposed £30,000 minimum earnings requirement for post-Brexit working visas.

Could Mr Corbyn demand this is scrapped and a lower earnings threshold imposed?

For Mrs May, ending free movement is her reddest of red lines. But Labour policy on what migration policy should replace free movement is significantly more liberal than Tory policy

For Mrs May, ending free movement is her reddest of red lines. But Labour policy on what migration policy should replace free movement is significantly more liberal than Tory policy

For Mrs May, ending free movement is her reddest of red lines. But Labour policy on what migration policy should replace free movement is significantly more liberal than Tory policy

Second referendum

Publicly, Downing Street officials have not ruled out agreeing to a second referendum.

Yet if anything is a deal breaker, it is a demand for another Brexit vote. The whole point of the talks with Mr Corbyn – and the reward for Mrs May enduring civil war in the Tory Party – is that Brexit goes through in short order with Labour backing.

But a second referendum, with Remain on the ballot paper, would require a Brexit delay of at least a year and the UK taking part in MEP elections next month – both currently unacceptable to Mrs May.

On Mr Corbyn’s side, the second referendum is the issue which divides his Shadow Cabinet, MPs, activists and voters like no other. Agree to a deal without one and the Remainers in his party will be livid.

If he wants to deliberately crash the talks, this is what Mr Corbyn’s demand will be.

Cabinet Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom stabs May in the back by demanding Merkel supports a ‘proper Brexit’

Andrea Leadsom (pictured today) defied Theresa May and signalled a new Brexiteer revolt today as she urged the Prime Minister to use a trip to Berlin to demand a ‘proper Brexit’

Andrea Leadsom defied Theresa May and signalled a new Brexiteer revolt today as she urged the Prime Minister to use a trip to Berlin to demand a ‘proper Brexit‘.

The Commons Leader said Mrs May should tell Angela Merkel to make the EU re-write the Brexit divorce deal and tear up the Irish border backstop.

Following the first hammering of her deal, Mrs May asked the EU to reopen the deal to change the backstop – a provision designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland even if UK-EU trade talks fail – and was rebuffed.

Mrs Merkel herself has repeatedly said the deal, negotiated over the past two years, cannot be renegotiated – a position Mrs May has publicly accepted. 

But Mrs Leadsom went rogue today and insisted she had heard ‘rumours’ the German government might finally be prepared to budge at the 11th hour.

In a further escalation of a Brexiteer revolt, Trade Secretary Liam Fox wrote to Tory MPs to insist a permanent customs union with the EU would be the ‘worst of both worlds’. 

The Government is in talks with Labour on changing the political declaration outlining the permanent trade deal amid claims she could concede a customs union. 

As the revolt breaks out in London today, Mrs May is flying to Berlin to beg the German Chancellor for help as she asks for a second delay to Brexit.

The PM wants until June 30, with an earlier exit if she can convince MPs to back her deal at a fourth attempt.

In an early blow for the PM ahead of today’s talks Germany’s EU minister warned ‘absolutely nothing had changed’ in Westminster and Mrs May faces a choice between a long delay and No Deal. 

Ahead of the showdown, Mrs Leadsom said: ‘What I think would be fantastic if Angela Merkel will try to support a proper UK Brexit by agreeing to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement.

‘There have been rumours over the weekend that some senior members of the German government would be willing to do that in order to get Theresa May’s deal across the line.

‘If we could get the prime minister’s deal over the line because the EU have decided to support measures on the backstop then that would be the best possible outcome.’

Dr Liam Fox's letter to Tories blasting a customs union

Dr Liam Fox's letter to Tories blasting a customs union

Dr Liam Fox's letter to Tories blasting a customs union

Dr Liam Fox's letter to Tories blasting a customs union

Dr Liam Fox’s letter to Tories blasting a customs union saying it would be the ‘worst of both worlds’

But ahead of the talks German EU minister Michael Roth played down hopes of a shift from Berlin. He said: ‘It’s groundhog day again. 

‘Unfortunately I have to say that the conditions the European council has decided on in its last meeting have not been met. This means time will run out on 12 April.’ 

He added: ‘Of course the EU continues to be willing to talk, there is also a letter by the prime minister, May.

‘We will very carefully have to look at this letter. We are finally expecting substantial steps in the right direction. So far absolutely nothing has changed.

‘Of course we are also thinking about such a deadline extension, including a long extension of the deadline, but this also has to come with very strict criteria.

‘For example, it cannot be that there are speculations without an obligation of the British side to also partake in the European elections. Therefore we are in a very frustrating situation and the EU has to finally also take care of issues of the future.

‘We might also have to give the British side time so they can finally be clear about what they actually want. Apparently the very late talks with the British opposition have not led to any progress whatsoever either.’

In March, the EU formalised new ‘assurances’ on how the backstop would work, attaching two new documents to the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the EU’s Michel Barnier and UK officials. 

But the papers were not enough to convince Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to change his legal advice there was a risk the backstop could last forever if trade talks falter.

The backstop effectively ties the UK into the EU customs union between the end of the planned two-year transition period and the start of a permanent trade deal. 

Brexiteers hate it because they fear it will be the basis of that trade deal – meaning no post-Brexit trade deals – and it will be impossible to leave if trade talks fail.

The DUP also say the protocol creates a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland because the province would have to stay inside additional single market rules.

The second Brexiteer intervention today from Dr Fox came in an incendiary letter to the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

It comes ahead of renewed talks between Mrs May’s deputy David Lidington and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer today on a possible cross-party consensus.

Talks are thought to be focused on whether a form of customs union could be acceptable enough to both parties to pass the main Withdrawal Agreement with Labour votes.

But in a letter revealed by the Telegraph, Dr Fox told Tory MPs: ‘We would be stuck in the worst of both Worlds, not only unable to set our own international trade policy but subject, without representation, to the policy of an entity over which MPs would have no democractic control.

In a further escalation of a Brexiteer revolt, Trade Secretary Liam Fox (pictured yesterday in Downing Street) wrote to Tory MPs to insist a permanent customs union with the EU would be the 'worst of both worlds'

In a further escalation of a Brexiteer revolt, Trade Secretary Liam Fox (pictured yesterday in Downing Street) wrote to Tory MPs to insist a permanent customs union with the EU would be the 'worst of both worlds'

In a further escalation of a Brexiteer revolt, Trade Secretary Liam Fox (pictured yesterday in Downing Street) wrote to Tory MPs to insist a permanent customs union with the EU would be the ‘worst of both worlds’

‘This is something that Labour do not presently seem to understand. As I said at the meeting, in such a scenario the UK would have a new role in the global trading system.

‘We would ourselves be traded. As the famous saying in Brussels goes, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.’

Mrs Leadsom’s intervention will be widely seen as manoevering ahead of the expected Tory leadership race.

She lost out to Mrs May almost three years ago after a scandal over remarks to a newspaper that she would be a better PM because she was a mother. 

What is the Irish border backstop and why do Tory MPs hate it? 

The so-called Irish border backstop is one of the most controversial parts of the PM’s Brexit deal. This is what it means: 

What is the backstop? 

The backstop was invented to meet promises to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland even if there is no comprehensive UK-EU trade deal.

The divorce deal says it will kick in automatically at the end of the Brexit transition if that deal is not in place.

If effectively keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland in both the customs union and single market.

This means many EU laws will keep being imposed on the UK and there can be no new trade deals. It also means regulatory checks on some goods crossing the Irish Sea. 

Why have Ireland and the EU demanded it? 

Because Britain demanded to leave the EU customs union and single market, the EU said it needed guarantees people and goods circulating inside met EU rules.

This is covered by the Brexit transition, which effectively maintains current rules, and can in theory be done in the comprehensive EU-UK trade deal.

But the EU said there had to be a backstop to cover what happens in any gap between transition and final deal.  

Why do critics hate it? 

Because Britain cannot decide when to leave the backstop. 

Getting out – even if there is a trade deal – can only happen if both sides agree people and goods can freely cross the border.

Brexiteers fear the EU will unreasonably demand the backstop continues so EU law continues to apply in Northern Ireland.  

Northern Ireland MPs also hate the regulatory border in the Irish Sea, insisting it unreasonably carves up the United Kingdom. 

What concessions did Britain get in negotiating it? 

During the negotiations, Britain persuaded Brussels the backstop should apply to the whole UK and not just Northern Ireland. Importantly, this prevents a customs border down the Irish Sea – even if some goods still need to be checked.

The Government said this means Britain gets many of the benefits of EU membership after transition without all of the commitments – meaning Brussels will be eager to end the backstop. 

It also got promises the EU will act in ‘good faith’ during the future trade talks and use its ‘best endeavours’ to finalise a deal – promises it says can be enforced in court.

What did the legal advice say about it? 

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said even with the EU promises, if a trade deal cannot be reached the backstop could last forever.

This would leave Britain stuck in a Brexit limbo, living under EU rules it had no say in writing and no way to unilaterally end it.  

How a No Deal Brexit COULD happen this week: Wednesday’s summit is set to delay leaving the EU by a YEAR – or the UK could crash out on FRIDAY if hardliner Macron makes good on threats

Britain faces the theoretical prospect of a No Deal Brexit on Friday – but few in Westminster believe it will be allowed to happen.

Despite the stalling of cross party talks with Labour, Theresa May appears set on a new delay to Brexit.

She will meet EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday to formalise her request for a second extension to Article 50. Britain wants to delay until June 30.

But the Prime Minister knows she will have to take what she is given as she will be kicked out of the summit while the 27 leaders agree a way forward.

A six-hour debate at the last summit produced a much shorter two week delay – but this time most expect the EU to kick Brexit a year or more down the road.

French President Emmanuel Macron has threatened to veto any extension to end the stalemate. This is by far the most likely route to a No Deal Brexit this week.

Mrs May will have to agree a delay on the night whatever the political ramifications at home – certain to be explosive on the Brexiteer wing of her party.

MPs will have to rubber stamp a change in the Brexit date but it emerged two weeks ago they have no actual power to stop the PM agreeing a change in Brussels.

Before the summit convenes, Labour and Tory politicians are expected to resume talks to see if a consensus on the final EU-UK trade deal can be struck. 

Few in Westminster expect a significant breakthrough without a dramatic climbdown from the Prime Minister on her red lines.

MPs are also likely to debate and vote at least one tomorrow. Rebels who forced through legislation to force the Government to seek a delay are likely to get their law finalised tonight, meaning Mrs May will have to hold a debate on delay tomorrow.

And the PM had signalled she would call indicative votes on Brexit alternatives before the summit if talks with Jeremy Corbyn failed – but there is currently little sign of this being scheduled. 

 

What has Mrs May asked for? 

In a letter to Donald Tusk she formally requested an extension to Article 50 that will delay the UK’s departure beyond April 12 to June 30 – but she also wants a ‘termination clause’.

This would allow the UK to leave on May 22 – the day before European elections – if a deal can be pushed through the UK Parliament.

However, this delay is a carbon copy of that sought by Mrs May before the last emergency summit in March – which was rejected.

What has the EU said?

Mr Tusk said that a 12-month ‘flextension’ to March 29 2020 is ‘the only reasonable way out’ of the crisis and has urged leaders of the EU’s 27 member states to back him at Wednesday’s summit. 

Such an extension is likely to spark fury among Tory Brexiteer MPs, with Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting if we were kept in we should be troublesome to the rest of the EU, politically.

And Mrs May has previously said she would not be able to accept such a delay – suggesting it could prompt her to resign. This could lead to a summer leadership battle in Tory ranks before a new, most likely Brexiteer leader, takes over.

What is happening in the cross party talks? 

The Prime Minister has said the divorce deal could not be changed but announced last week she would seek a new consensus with Jeremy Corbyn on the political declaration about the final UK-EU agreement. 

Talks broke down on Friday between ministers and officials from both parties, despite previous efforts being hailed as ‘constructive’.

In a video yesterday, Mrs May renewed her calls for consensus and talks are thought likely to continue today – but few expect success. 

If the talks fail, Mrs May has promised to put options to Parliament and agreed to be bound by the result. Time is short to actually call this vote.

In a second round of indicative votes on Monday night a customs union, Norway-style soft Brexit and second referendum were the leading options – but none got a majority of MPs.  

What does Mrs May’s shift mean?   

Mrs May has abandoned all hope of winning over remaining Tory Brexiteers and the DUP on the terms of her current deal.

Striking a cross-party deal with Labour on the future relationship will require Mrs May to abandon many of her red lines – including potentially on free movement and striking trade deals.

To get an agreement with Labour, Mrs May will need to agree the political declaration should spell out a much softer Brexit than her current plans do.

This might mean a permanent UK-EU customs union or even staying in the EU Single Market.

What if Mr Corbyn says No? 

Mrs May said if she cannot cut a deal with Corbyn, she would ask Parliament to come up with options – and promised to follow orders from MPs.

In a second round of indicative votes last week a customs union, Norway-style soft Brexit and second referendum were the leading options – but none got a majority of MPs.

They would probably pass if the Tories whipped for them – but it would almost certainly mean ministers quitting the Government. 

Can either option be completed before the PM goes to Brussels? 

Yes there is still technically time. The Government would have to table a motion tonight for any such vote was to be held tomorrow.

MPs would then have time the following day to debate what was on offer – and possibly suggest their own changes – before it is put to a vote, probably in the evening.  

In practice, talks with Mr Corbyn and his team must have ended this afternoon at the very latest to give time for MPs to have their say if she is to make demand to the EU ahead of Wednesday’s summit. 

When will Brexit be? 

It is hard to say – but it is unlikely to be next week on April 12. 

Mrs May has asked for an extension to June 30. Donald Tusk has suggested a year. 

There are EU leaders like France’s Emmanuel Macron who have played Bad Cop and said they want us gone quickly. But others, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, has been more conciliatory, suggesting yesterday she would show more flexibility to get a deal. 

The PM clearly still wants to get out of the EU before European Parliament elections have to be held on May 22 but this is ultimately up to Brussels.

Will the EU agree to this? 

It is hard to say. The EU has said it is open to further extension if there is a clear purpose and plan. Open ended talks on the future framework are unlikely to qualify.

A clear, negotiable goal for the future framework probably would do. The EU has always said it is open to Britain staying in the Single Market and Customs Union. 

Will May resign? 

Nodbody knows for sure. Mrs May has announced she would go if and when her divorce deal passed so a new Tory leader could take charge of the trade talks phase.

In practice, it drained Mrs May of all remaining political capital. Most in Westminster think her Premiership is over within weeks at the latest. 

As her deal folded for a third time a fortnight ago, she faced immediate calls from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn so stand down with instant effect. 

What is clear is there is already a fight underway for the Tory leadership.  

Does is all mean there will be an election?

Probably, at some point though the immediate chances have fallen because of the latest events. The Commons is deadlocked and the Government has no functional majority. While the Fixed Term Parliaments Act means the Government can stumble on, it will become increasingly powerless.

Mrs May could try to call one herself or, assuming she stands down, her successor could do so.  

Would May lead the Tories into an early election? 

Unlikely. Having admitted to her party she would go if the deal passes, Mrs May’s political career is doomed.

While there is no procedural way to remove her, a withdrawal of political support from the Cabinet or Tory HQ would probably finish her even if she wanted to stay.    

How is an election called? When would it be? 

Because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act passed by the coalition, the Prime Minister can no longer simply ask the Queen to dissolve the Commons and call an election. There are two procedures instead.

First – and this is what happened in 2017 – the Government can table a motion in the Commons calling for an early election. Crucially, this can only pass with a two-thirds majority of MPs – meaning either of the main parties can block it.

Second an election is called if the Government loses a vote of no confidence and no new administration can be built within 14 days.

In practice, this is can only happen if Tory rebels vote with Mr Corbyn – a move that would end the career of any Conservative MP who took the step. 

An election takes a bare minimum of five weeks from start to finish and it would take a week or two to get to the shut down of Parliament, known as dissolution – putting the earliest possible polling day around mid to late May. 

If the Tories hold a leadership election first it probably pushes any election out to late June at the earliest.  

Why do people say there has to be an election? 

The question of whether to call an election finally reached the Cabinet last week.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay warned the rejection of Mrs May’s deal would set in train a series of events that will lead to a softer Brexit – meaning an election because so many MPs will have to break manifesto promises. 

MPs voting to seize control of Brexit from ministers has only fuelled the demands.   

Labour has been calling for a new vote for months, insisting the Government has failed to deliver Brexit.

Mr Corbyn called a vote of no confidence in the Government in January insisting the failure of the first meaningful vote showed Mrs May’s administration was doomed. He lost but the calls did not go away. 

Brexiteers have joined the demands in recent days as Parliament wrestles with Brexit and amid fears among hardliners promises made by both main parties at the last election will be broken – specifically on leaving the Customs Union and Single Market. 

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen wants Mrs May replaced with a Brexiteer. He believes it would push Remain Tories out of the party and then allow a snap election with more Eurosceptic candidates wearing blue rosettes.

What might happen? 

Both main parties will have to write a manifesto – including a position on Brexit. Both parties are deeply split – in many cases between individual MPs and their local activists.

Under Mrs May, the Tories presumably try to start with the deal. But it is loathed by dozens of current Tory MPs who want a harder Brexit and hated even more by grassroots Tory members. 

Shifting Tory policy on Brexit to the right would alienate the majority of current MPs who voted to Remain.

Labour has similar splits. Many of Labour’s MPs and activists want Mr Corbyn to commit to putting Brexit to a second referendum – most with a view to cancelling it. 

Mr Corbyn is a veteran Eurosceptic and millions of people who voted Leave in 2016 backed Labour in 2017. 

The splits set the stage for a bitter and chaotic election. The outcome is highly unpredictable – the Tories start in front but are probably more divided on the main question facing the country.

Labour is behind but knows it made dramatic gains in the polls in the last election with its promises of vastly higher public spending. 

Neither side can forecast what impact new political forces might wield over the election or how any public anger over the Brexit stalemate could play out.

It could swing the result in favour of one of the main parties or a new force. 

Or an election campaign that takes months, costs millions of pounds could still end up in a hung Parliament and continued stalemate. This is the current forecast by polling expert Sir John Curtice.

 

 

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