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Live: UK Parliament debates Theresa May's latest Brexit plan

Live: UK Parliament debates Theresa May’s latest Brexit plan

The embattled prime minister's latest proposal would require parliament to vote on whether to hold a new public referendum over Brexit. #FoxNewsLive #FoxNews FOX News operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Radio, FOX News…

Deal reached for Northern Ireland power-sharing talks

The public clamour for political progress following the killing of the journalist Lyra McKee encouraged both governments to launch a fresh attempt to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland, they said in a statement released on Friday afternoon. We agree that what is now needed is actions and not just words from all of us who are in positions of leadership.” The new process would involve all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, together with the UK and Irish governments, it said. Theprime minister and taoiseach, who both attended McKee’s funeral in Belfast on Wednesday, also agreed that there should be a meeting of the British-Irish intergovernmental conference to consider east-west relations, security cooperation and political stability in Northern Ireland. What is the New IRA? It has been linked with four murders, including the shooting of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry in April 2019. The group is believed to have formed between 2011 and 2012 after the merger of a number of smaller groups, including the Real IRA, which was behind the 1998 Omagh bombing. She said the DUP could not accede to all Sinn Féin demands, describing such a scenario as a “5-0 victory”. McDonald, speaking in a separate media interview, said Sinn Féin would not “capitulate” on an Irish language act, saying there was nothing trivial about insisting on equality and rights. Smaller parties are keen to return to Stormont. “There is no issue more important than political stability.”

Huawei leak highlights collapse of discipline in May’s cabinet

Leaks from deep within Theresa May’s bitterly divided administration have become widespread and common: as one despairing official remarked recently, “this government is a sieve”. But the revelation of the highly sensitive news that ministers have decided to set aside cybersecurity concerns and involve the Chinese firm Huawei in the creation of Britain’s 5G network is regarded by many as a leak too far. The decision was taken at the national security council, on which ministers sit alongside officials and members of the security services. The secrecy of its discussions has never before been breached. A full-scale inquiry is now expected to be launched, but a slew of other briefings and counter-briefings from private meetings in recent weeks and months has not just gone unpunished but become almost unremarkable. There are several, allied reasons for this pervasive culture of briefing and counter-briefing, which means multiple competing accounts of cabinet meetings are available shortly after ministers walk out of Downing Street. One is simply the ready availability of instant electronic communication – a string of WhatsApp messages is a lot quicker and more straightforward than the old-fashioned gossip over lunch or in a Westminster bar (though that still happens too, of course). Another is the historic significance of the issues at stake and the lack of trust on both sides of the Brexit debate, which means all the key players want to ensure their point is heard even if they lost the argument in the room. There has been a complete breakdown of discipline. One exasperated minister said it was obvious when colleagues around the polished cabinet table in Downing Street were making the strident, often over-long intervention they would then allow to be briefed to the press later.

Sturgeon outlines new Scottish independence referendum plans

Nicola Sturgeon is to introduce new legislation to stage a second Scottish independence referendum, claiming that one must be held by May 2021. The first minister said Brexit would have such a catastrophic impact on Scotland’s economy and Westminster’s approach to it had been so chaotic that Scottish voters must have the option to choose independence. In a long-awaited statement to the Scottish parliament on her plans, Sturgeon said the proposed legislation would set out how a new referendum would be held if Holyrood was granted the powers to stage one. Scotland should get independence vote by May 2021 if Brexit going ahead, says Sturgeon – live news Read more On Tuesday, No 10 made clear that Theresa May would never authorise such a vote as prime minister. Sturgeon first announced she wanted new legislation for a second referendum in June 2016, immediately after the UK voted to leave the EU. Sturgeon stopped short of declaring a referendum would definitely be held, naming a date for one or repeating her call for the powers to hold one – evasions which will infuriate hardline independence campaigners. “Brexit has exposed a deep democratic deficit at the heart of how Scotland is governed. Others show that a majority of Scottish voters would support a referendum over the next decade. Sturgeon appeared to acknowledge there was not yet a majority in favour of leaving the UK and said she wanted to build consensus with opposition parties on Scotland’s constitutional and political future, in contrast to May’s insularity and intransigence on Brexit. At the same time, the Scottish government would set up a so-called citizens’ assembly, drawing people from across the country and the political spectrum, chaired by an independent figure, to start a debate on its constitutional future.

What are the major threats to Theresa May’s leadership?

Theresa May returns from the Easter recess facing pressure from all quarters of her party to consider her position as prime minister – but secure in the knowledge that there remains very little they can do to force her to go. The cabinet Most Tory MPs believe the only way to force May from office would be for a mass delegation of cabinet ministers to tell her that her time is up. Should May decide to agree some form of closer customs arrangement as a means of getting Labour to back the deal, then it could prompt some cabinet walkouts, such as the international trade secretary, Liam Fox. Brexit: cross-party talks to restart as Tories step up efforts to oust May Read more The committee, which will meet and vote on Tuesday, could decide to scrap the grace period altogether, which would mean another vote could take place as soon as 15% of Tory MPs submit letters of no confidence. Tory grassroots Grassroots Conservative activists will try to press May to stand down as prime minister by forcing an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to allow a vote of no confidence from party members. The vote would not be binding on the prime minister, but the National Conservative Convention (NCC) is obliged to hold the meeting if more than 65 Tory association chairs called for one to be held. Glover said there was little campaigners could do to force the party to hold an EGM quickly – but hoped that the symbolism would be enough to force cabinet ministers to act. Tory donors Donors have openly voiced their frustration at May’s leadership – mostly from a pro-business perspective and over fears about a no-deal Brexit. Other Tory remainer donors have also called for the prime minister to get a grip on her mutinous party. If May faces humiliation in the local elections – which Tory candidates have described as looking “extraordinarily bad” – then she could decide to go of her own accord, or that could happen after the EU elections if Farage’s party overwhelm the Conservatives.

Labour says Theresa May unwilling to offer key Brexit concessions

Brexit talks resumed on Tuesday between a team of ministers and shadow ministers. Rachel Johnson and Gavin Esler to stand for Change UK Read more Downing Street continues to insist that it hopes to secure parliamentary ratification of a Brexit deal in time to avoid the UK having to participate in next month’s European parliament elections. The government has been considering tabling the WAB as a way of breaking the Brexit deadlock, but Labour has rejected the idea. After the talks, which involved the cabinet ministers David Lidington and Steve Barclay and their Labour shadows, Jeremy Corbyn blamed the government’s refusal to compromise on central issues such as membership of a customs union for the failure to make significant progress. The executive of the 1922 Committee met on Tuesday night to discuss amending Tory party rules, which currently state a leader cannot face a second no-confidence motion within a year of the previous one. Without Labour support, the government is unlikely to risk bringing back the WAB, which parliament must pass in order to ratify May’s Brexit deal. May’s deal was rejected for a third time last month, by a majority of 58. If the WAB is rejected at its second reading – MPs’ second opportunity to vote on it – the government could not bring it back in the current parliamentary session. One government source suggested May appeared to be paving the way for reluctantly accepting a customs union at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. But in order to be amended a bill must pass its second reading and Labour sources suggested the party would only be willing to offer its support if May first agreed to compromise.

Tory MP Chris Davies could face byelection after fake expenses claim

The Conservative MP Christopher Davies has been found guilty of submitting fake expenses invoices for £700 of landscape photographs to decorate his office, meaning he could be kicked out of parliament under the recall process. Davies has not been suspended by the Conservative party but he will now face a recall petition to see whether his constituents want to force him to face a byelection. “It’s shocking that the Conservative party has still failed to take action against Christopher Davies, over a month after he admitted stealing from the public purse,” he said. He then created two fake invoices, so the £700 cost could be split between the two budgets – £450 to the startup and £250 for the other. MPs ask the public to place their trust in them and in an election that’s what happens. “The recall process may end your political career – that’s part of the machinery.” The process can result in MPs who are handed prison terms of less than a year being subject to a petition to oust them. It is not a financial cost, it is a harm to the integrity of parliament.” Forster said his client underspent across every single budget. For the prosecution, Stott said it was accepted that Davies had not sought to profit financially from the action and that he was entitled to claim for the pictures. However, he said Davies was not entitled to split the costs across two budgets, and any claims had to be accompanied by genuine invoices. Davies served as a councillor in Powys before he was elected as an MP at the 2015 general election.

Theresa May could put off Queen’s speech amid Brexit turmoil

Theresa May could put off the Queen’s speech until later this year, with government sources saying there were no immediate plans to bring one forward while parliament had not yet approved a Brexit deal. May had been widely expected to schedule a Queen’s speech setting out the government’s legislative agenda within weeks, because she announced a two-year parliamentary session in mid-June 2017. “There’s no obligation to have one at a fixed point and there’s no immediate plans to bring forward a Queen’s speech,” the source said. There is usually one Queen’s speech each year, and it has taken place in May or June in recent years, but Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, announced a two-year session after the last election in order to “build the broadest possible consensus for our Brexit plans”. Bringing one forward could give MPs the opportunity to show there is no confidence in the government by voting it down, especially if parliament voted against the EU withdrawal bill and the Queen’s speech was used to introduce it again. May only has a majority with the backing of the DUP, but relations are weak following the party’s refusal to back her withdrawal bill. One concern in No 10 is that if its EU withdrawal bill was voted down, it would have to prorogue parliament and have a Queen’s speech in order to bring it back again. Other factors include the government having all but run out of legislation for parliament to debate other than bills connected to Brexit, and the likelihood of a furious reaction from MPs, including those in the DUP. “There’s no point in a parliamentary session if we’ve not got anything to do. I never knew the real meaning of the word doldrums until this parliament,” he said.

Downing Street under pressure to close down Labour talks on Brexit

No 10 is feeling the pressure to pull the plug on Brexit talks with Labour and move to an alternative plan, amid warnings that the opposition is in no hurry for a deal before the European elections. Ken Clarke: ‘Brexit is like a parody version of student politics’ Read more However, government sources acknowledge Theresa May is under much greater time pressure than Labour, which has little incentive to do a deal before the European and local elections that are likely to result in the Conservatives suffering heavy losses to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. Ministers and their opposition counterparts are taking part in working groups on some issues this week, but there will be no discussion before Easter on the big issues of a customs union or a confirmatory referendum, making it easy for Labour to reject the prime minister’s overtures so far. The government’s alternative plan is for MPs to thrash out an acceptable version of May’s deal through a series of votes or by amending the withdrawal bill, but experts said there was barely enough time to do this in the five weeks before the European elections. Nikki da Costa, formerly the legislative affairs director in No 10, suggested getting the withdrawal bill passed by 22 May would “require a level of legislative aggression from government not seen in this parliament”. There is also concern in No 10 that Labour may not get behind the plan to let MPs amend the withdrawal bill to find a way forward. “We don’t know if they are going to work and it may be that we need to find a way to rebuild the Conservative-DUP coalition,” Hunt said. One Conservative MEP told the Guardian that it was “cloud cuckoo land” to think European elections can be avoided at this stage. Conservative party officials are privately acknowledging the party will lose around half of their MEPs. A Tory party source said: “As is usual, Conservative candidates are expected to represent the Conservative party.”

Brexit talks ‘will stall unless May shifts on customs union’

Talks between Labour and the government are unlikely to advance much further in the coming week unless Theresa May moves on her red lines over a future customs union, sources close to the talks have suggested. Labour has suggested the ball is in the government’s court and, while the opposition will engage on other topics including workers’ rights and security, the key question on customs arrangements remains unresolved. “We think it is possible to get the benefits of a customs union but still have the flexibility for the UK to pursue an independent trade policy on top of that with other countries outside the EU. He said there was “no date ringed in the calendar” for the talks to end but if agreement could not be reached on some form of Brexit deal then he hoped the two sides would be able to agree a binding mechanism for parliament to agree a way forward. May and Corbyn are not expected to be involved in the talks this week during the Easter recess, though Tory MPs expect speculation over the prime minister’s position and leadership jostling to continue. I think those dates still stand,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the two peers said there was “nothing standing in their way” if MPs agreed to change the rules, though the committee’s current chair, Sir Graham Brady, said he was “less certain that it would be possible to change the rules during the current period of grace”. “There has been a stop Boris campaign since the days of Michael Howard pushing forward Cameron and Osborne,” she tweeted. Many of those with their own eye on No 10 aren’t a fan of that prospect.” Duncan Smith said many in the party were deeply concerned about the most recent polling predicting a Labour lead of up to seven points and dire forecasts for the local and EU elections. “The big problem was as soon as we didn’t leave, you could see all the poll ratings start to crash.”