United Kingdom minister rules out Brexit process extension

Yvette Cooper said the victory would send a strong message to government. /REUTERS

A cross-party amendment laid down by backbench Labour MP Yvette Cooper and supported by the opposition frontbench has passed by 303 to 296 votes, representing another major government defeat on Brexit.

Meanwhile, a cross-party group of MPs has launched a bid to block a no-deal Brexit by adding an amendment to the government's finance bill, which the Commons is due to vote on tomorrow.

Writing in the Guardian, Ms Cooper said a no-deal Brexit would cause "deep and long-lasting" damage, and the country "can't afford to play Brexit chicken and wait to see who blinks first".

Britain is heading for "uncharted territory", with Brexit potentially being cancelled if MPs vote down Theresa May's Brexit deal later this month, the prime minister said today.

The chances of the United Kingdom crashing out have risen dramatically as the PM faces the prospect of disastrous defeat in a vote next week on the deal she has thrashed out with the EU.

He added that if that occurred we should demand legal assurances and "some sort of undertaking on a free trade deal", saying: "This will get very, very sticky, very close to the end, that is what will happen".

MPs have inflicted another Brexit defeat on the government in Parliament by backing measures created to thwart preparations for a no-deal exit. The "further measures", she said, would be set out before the vote on January 15.

"Today's trial can not possibly duplicate the reality of 4,000 trucks being held at Manston airport in the event of a no-deal Brexit", the RHA's chief executive Richard Burnett said in a statement.

A no-deal exit is the default scenario if May's deal is rejected, and the prospect of possible supply chain disruption, medicine shortage and blocked ports has in recent weeks pushed companies and the government to ramp up contingency planning.

"We really need to have a ratification of the withdrawal agreement".

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The move is meant to help limit the scale of opposition to the vote while buying time as negotiations continue with European Union leaders.

May postponed an initial vote last month in the face of opposition from all sides of the House of Commons, but has now set it for next Tuesday evening after 1900 GMT, following five days of debate which start on Wednesday.

"Peeling off five of 10 Conservative Party MPs is neither here nor there, but if you get the DUP in line, May will give lots of parliamentarians an excuse to say, 'Well, OK, if they're happy with it I can't really justify going around moaning about the Irish backstop'".

European Union officials familiar with the discussions said they saw little sign of any shift in the position of European Union leaders last month, when they said the agreement could not be renegotiated and they would make no binding commitments that could be construed as altering it.

Speaking before the vote, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman poured cold water on suggestions the changes in the amendment to the Budget would have a dramatic impact on the government.

Britain can request an extension to the Brexit procedure, but all 27 other European Union countries must agree, and the bloc's leaders said last month that they would need good reasons to prolong it. Officials have said a second Brexit referendum could be one good reason to do so.

"Others across the House of Commons are so focused on their particular vision of Brexit that they risk making a flawless ideal the enemy of a good deal".

Labour MP Ian Murray, who backs the People's Vote campaign for another referendum, said it showed that a no-deal exit was an "empty threat".

The number indicates an all-time low in support for the deal.

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