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Brexit: Live updates as MPs get ready to vote on Article 50 extension

It is another big day in Parliament as MPs turn their attention to the issue of whether there should be an extension to Article 50, giving the government more time to draw up its Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to come under further pressure after a turbulent and dramatic day which saw her suffer two bruising defeats in The Commons as MPs votedto scrap the idea of a ' No Deal' Brexit.

We will be following all today's important events with our live blogand our political editor Paul Francis will be providing commentary and analysis throughout the day.

And if you want to join the debate today don't forget to use the hashtag #kentbrexit


18.30pm Government wins support for call to seek from EU permission to delay Brexit bill untilJune

17.58 Well that was a close call - the government defeats amendment which would have ceded control over Brexit to Parliament. Majority of two.

17.52 Kent MPs seem to be rallying around government - and there's a claim from the Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson that dark forces are conspiring to thwart Brexit.

Here's Sir Roger Gale North Thanet MP:

5.20pm The "second referendum" amendment tabled by Sarah Woolaston is defeated: 85 for; 334 against.

5.10pm MPs have started voting on an amendment to request Article 50 extension in order to hold a second referendum tabled by MP Sarah Woolaston.

4.28pm Right, apologies for the interrupted coverage.

MPs are debating four amendments picked by Speaker John Speaker - he selects one seeking another referendum, but blocks one rejecting such a vote - prompting anger from Brexiteers.

Not unexpectedly Dover MP Charlie Elphicke won't be backing a second referendum:

12.15pm And who doesn't want a second referendum? A number of Kent MPs have signed an amendment calling on Parliament to rule out another poll.

The signatories are: Adam Holloway (Gravesham); Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) Gareth Johnson (Dartford) Rehman Chishti (Gillingham) and Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet).

11.40am Who wants another Brexit referendum? No great surprise that the Liberal Democrat South East MEP Catherine Bearder does. Here's what she had to say:

10.55am Several Kent MPs have expressed their dismay about Operation Stack being triggered and the inevitable snaking queues of lorries along the M20.

The MPs have complained that the Department for Transport has been dragging its feet on the issue; they have a point - up to a point. There doesn't appear to have been much progress on finding a permanent solution since the transport minister Chris Grayling ditched the plan it had for a lorry park at Stanford off the M20 because it was facing legal action from opponents of the scheme.

Here's what the DfT said back in 2017 about its plans.

So far as we are aware, no other sites have been identified (at least, none that have been put out for consultation) and the prospect of a new planning application seems a very remote prospect.

DFT (7782767)
DFT (7782767)

10.20am The Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark is getting a lot of attention today after abstaining - along with three other cabinet members - on a government amendment about striking off the no-deal Brexit option. He's defended himself but a lot of the coverage has been about how this is symptomatic of Theresa May not in control of her cabinet or party. In the febrile environment, perceptions matter and the perception of many is that there are splits in the cabinet.

Meanwhile, the ardent Brexiteer Craig Mackinlay, South Thanet MP, has left no-one in any doubt what he thinks of yesterday's chaotic events, saying that the government had relinquished one of its most powerful bargaining chips by ditching the 'no deal' option:

8.09am Catch up on yesterday's events when MPs voted twice to scrap the option of keeping a Brexit no-deal on the table.

7.55am Welcome to day three of Brexit voting



There are reports 17 government ministers and four cabinet members who did not support the government tonight, by either voting against Theresa May or abstaining.


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's reaction to the votes: "Tonight this house has once again definitely ruled out no-deal.

"While an extension of article 50 is now inevitable, responsibility for that extension now relies solely and squarely at the Prime Minister's door.

"But extending article 50 without a clear objective is not a solution. Parliament must now take control of the situation."



Prime Minister Theresa May's reaction to the votes: “The house has to understand and accept that if it is not willing to support a deal in the coming days and as it is not willing to support leaving without a deal on the 29th of March then it is suggesting there will need to be a much longer extension to article 50."


MPs have voted on a government motion to rule out a no-deal Brexit by 321 votes to 278 - a majority of 43.


MPs are now voting on the government's motion, which has been amended to include ruling out no-deal completely.


MPs have also rejected an amendment to delay Brexit until May 22 by 374 votes to 164 - a majority of 210.


MPs are now voting on an amendment to extend Article 50 until May 22 and offer a "transitional phase" the runs until the end of 2021, with no backstop commitment.


MPs have voted to reject an no-deal Brexit by 312 votes to 308. It was tabled by Tory MP Dame Caroline Spelman.


MPs are voting to reject leaving the EU without a deal in any circumstances




blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck">

Every MP must judge what is right for the country & their constituents. I have voted - twice - to leave the EU with a deal. Tonight I’ll vote to keep #NoDeal on the table. It gives certainty & honours the referendum result. It’s time to come together and move on 🇬🇧

— Helen Whately (@Helen_Whately) March 13, 2019


It hasn't taken long for Nigel Farage - still a South East MEP - to stir things up - he has urged the European Parliament to block any attempt to extend Article 50.

Nigel Farage (7766796)
Nigel Farage (7766796)

Here's what he had to say: "I’m sure the next instalment of this will be the Prime Minister next Thursday going to the European Summit in Brussels, another humiliating display, where she begs for an extension of Article 50.

"I’ve got a solution to all of this. I heard Mr Barnier this morning say if this treaty gets passed, the next phase of negotiations could last to up to four years.

"I thought, ‘enough.’ We don’t want to waste another four years of our life, four more years of agony, and you don’t want to waste another four years.

"There is a simple solution and that is that the British request to extend is vetoed at that European Summit. We leave on March 29.

"In the European elections,you don’t want me coming back here, or hordes of Eurosceptics coming back here."

He does have his own inimitable style and likes nothing more than winding up his fellow MEPs. One interesting revelation is that the former UKIP leader said this was his "penultimate speech."


2.30pm Here's a quick up-date on the day's developments so far:

  • Theresa May says she will be voting to get 'no deal' off the table
  • Operation Stack has been triggered - Ashford MP Damian Green is 'appalled'
  • The Chancellor has urged MPs to get rid of 'no-deal' option as it is damaging economy
  • Dover MP Charlie Elphicke and South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay are voting to keep 'no deal' option

1.49pm The news that #opstack is in place has sparked a warning from hauliers that without a Brexit deal, this could be a foretaste of worse to come:

13.25 Some #Brexit related comments from Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Spring statement: "The uncertainty that I hoped would be lifted last night still hangs over it [economy] and we cannot allow that to continue. It is damaging our economy and damaging our reputation in the world. We can remove the imminent threat of no-deal hanging over us tonight...we have huge opportunities ahead of us..."

Chancellor Philip Hammond. (7761212)
Chancellor Philip Hammond. (7761212)

Translated: a not terribly subtle warning to Brexiteers not to mess things up.

13.05pm: Ashford MP @Damian Green says he is "appalled" that Operation Stack has been triggered:

12.42: The Prime Minister was asked about the Malthouse Compromise at PMQs (see below) and sounded a bit non-committal if I have interpreted her remarks correctly, saying: "The EU has made clear that it would not accept elements of what is in the Withdrawal Agreement without them being in the Withdrawal Agreement"

12.36: Not strictly #Brexit related but breaking news that Storm Gareth has triggered Operation Stack

12.15pm We've spoken to Catherine Bearder, who is an MEP for the South East. She wants no-deal taken off the table, and is calling for a second Brexit referendum.

11.55am Kent MP Damian Green is among a group of MPs putting forward compromise proposals to bring together remainers and leavers to break the political deadlock over Brexit.

Dubbed the Malthouse Compromise, it aims to offer refinements to the current deal that would satisfy both wings of the party.

The MPs have tabled amendments to the current Withdrawal Act. These include the British government publishing its post-Brexit trade tariff schedules “immediately” and seeks an extension of Article 50 until 22nd May.

Ashford MP Damian Green (6537910)
Ashford MP Damian Green (6537910)

The plan would also offer “mutual standstill agreements” with the European Union until the end of 2021 for more discussions to take place for a longer period.

During this time, the UK would continue to pay in to the EU.

The group has previously suggested refinements to Northern Ireland backstop, with the group saying the prime minister would renegotiate this element of the current Withdrawal Act.

The plan is to replace it with a free trade agreement that would address concerns over the indefinite nature of the current plan. Customs checks would be avoided by as yet-unknown technology.

11.02am MP for Tonbridge and Malling saying he wants a deal and today's vote is meaningless

10.56am Craig Mackinlay reveals his plans

10.45am Dover MP Charlie Elphicke is clearly an Eagles fan - see his reference to Hotel California below; which is a cue to start a list of Brexit-themed songs. I'm showing my age but how about Harry Nilsson's gem from 1972 "Without You" - or "Without EU"? Contributions welcome..

10.41am Speaking after the deal yesterday, Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, said: "Having listened carefully to the debate today it was clear the Withdrawal Agreement still contains a Backstop without end. Last time I was concerned we would be stuck in Hotel California - you can check out but never leave.

"It was clear nothing had really changed. This country voted to leave the EU - yet was set to remain tied to it under the Backstop. Indeed the Attorney General advised the legal risk of getting trapped remained unchanged.

Charlie Elphicke
Charlie Elphicke

"So with a heavy heart, I voted against the Withdrawal Agreement this evening.

"I will continue to work towards a deal that respects the referendum result and protects our sovereignty. Yet as I have always said, the responsible thing to do is step up preparations and be ready for every eventuality."

9.22am Amid reports that the Queen may be evacuated from London in the event of post-Brexit disorder, Ireland seems to be the pick of the odds at 22-1. And even though relationships between America and North Korea may have thawed, it’s unlikely that the Queen will seek refuge in the Communist state - the odds of that happening are 500-1.

9.06am Strong words from Tom Tugendhat

9am Did the people of Canterbury think May's Brexit deal should have been rejected? Here's what they had to say before the vote last night

8.50am Business chiefs say allowing the UK to leave the EU without a deal would "take political negligence to new extremes".

Jo James, chief executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, has long called for some certainty in the process to allow for businesses to plan for life outside of the EU.

Read more here.

8.39am Tracey Crouch was the only MP to vote 'aye' this time and no last time

Tracey Crouch (7642443)
Tracey Crouch (7642443)

8.10am This is how your MPs voted last night


Damian Green (Ashford)

Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet)

Greg Clarke (Tunbridge Wells)

Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood)

Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling)

Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent)

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford)

Helen Grant (Maidstone and Weald)


Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet)

Adam Holloway (Gravesham)

Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks)

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham)

Charlie Elphicke (Dover and Deal)

Rosie Duffield (Canterbury)

Gareth Johnstone (Dartford)

Keep scrolling to see how events unfolded yesterday



Responding to Mrs May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The government has been defeated again by an enormous majority and they must now accept their deal is clearly dead. Quite clearly no-deal must be taken off the table.

"Maybe it's time instead we had a general election and the people could choose who their government should be."


Speaking immediately after the result of the vote, Mrs May told the House of Commons: "Tonight we will table a motion for a debate tomorrow to test whether the house supports leave the EU without a deal on March 29.

"I'm passionate about delivering the result of the referendum, but I equally, passionately, believe the best way to do that is to leave in an orderly way with a deal."


Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch says she backed deal: "The Withdrawal Agreement is utterly imperfect but the real risk now is whether there will be any Brexit at all. I'll vote for the WA tonight but only to stop remainers from keeping us locked in the EU forever."

Tracey Crouch (7642443)
Tracey Crouch (7642443)


RESULT: MPs reject deal:

FOR: 242




Voting is underway in parliament


Dr Adrian Pabst, head of the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent says it looks inevitable that Theresa May's Brexit deal will be defeated in parliament.


Maidstone MP Helen Grant says she will be supporting the deal...here's her statement:

"I believe it represents a positive compromise. It delivers on the referendum result, ensuring we leave the EU at the end of March, and allows for the frictionless trade with Europe which our businesses need. It is not perfect, but perfect was never on the table in such a complex negotiation. Furthermore, the alternatives of a potential No Deal or a delay to Brexit are enormously unpalatable."

Maidstone MP Helen Grant
Maidstone MP Helen Grant

5.40pm: Apologies for the gap in coverage - we have had a few technical gremlins...

With the vote about an hour or so to go, one of the interesting developments has been the increasing chatter about a snap general election - something that many people have previously dismissed. Conservative MP Charles Walker has openly called for a snap poll - saying that it is the only way to break out of the stalemate.

No Kent MPs have broken ranks on this idea - yet but if there continues to be deadlock you can see how it might gain traction


Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant has her say during the debate


Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately warns about the impact of postponing a Brexit deal

3.35pm Away from politics, and we all need a break, here's a story about a runaway emu...and a plea to find it....

3.15pm Not the most auspicious of days to bring forward a bill with so much attention on Brexit but South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has been calling in the Commons for reform of election expenses rules. He was acquitted of charges related to expenses claims during the 2015 election campaign.

Craig Mackinlay at Ramsgate harbour (7539772)
Craig Mackinlay at Ramsgate harbour (7539772)

2.45pm Despite a shocking sore throat - rekindling memories of conference speech - PM is defending her deal robustly and has warned that a failure to back it in tonight's vote risks Brexit disappearing altogether. Also rubbishes calls for second referendum - in answer to question from Green MP Caroline Lucas

2.25pm Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately says any further delay would bring terrible uncertainy and damage businesses - invites PM to agree thatif would be "terribly bad for businesses" - PM replies that she agrees...

Helen Whately MP (7343137)
Helen Whately MP (7343137)

1.50pm: Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has firmly denied that at a meeting of Conservative MPs and PM, he had said he wanted her to "pull a rabbit out of the hat" but her new deal was more like a hamster.

This surely is an excuse for you to send us your pictures of your rabbits and/or hamsters...here's one to get you started:

What do rabbits call their home? (7724267)
What do rabbits call their home? (7724267)


What happens next?(7720623)
What happens next?(7720623)

1.10pm: Bad news for Theresa May - the Brexiteer group of MPs on the ERG (headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg) says it has taken its own advice and the view of its lawyers is that legal risk of new deal is same as old deal. In a statement the group - which South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay belongs to, as does Gravesham MP Adam Holloway - says:

'In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the Government's motion today'

12.50pm The Attorney General has outlined his view of the deal underlining that the plan continues to expose the UK to the same legal risk as the first version. Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins says it confirms his view:

12.01 Away from Westminster, why has KCCbought 1,000 new road signs? It's to do with Brexit and the answer is here


11.34am Although officials say they're doing the best they can to prepare ahead of March 29th, they admit they're still in the dark when it comes to exactly how Kent will be affected. Phil Wellbrook found out more

11.22am: An important development on the new Brexit deal:

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox says package does "reduce the risk" of the UK being "indefinitely and involuntarily" held in the Irish backstop. But he says "the legal risk remains unchanged", saying the UK would have no legal means of exiting without EU agreement.

11.12am Here's my favourite quote so far on the 'new' deal, courtesy of President Juncker:

"I hope and I trust that today's meaningful legal assurances will be meaningful enough for the meaningful vote tomorrow."

I think we get the gist...

11.08am The former cabinet member and Ashford MP has taken to Twitter

10.59am What do you think?


Conservative MP Gordon Henderson turned to his Facebook followers to seek advice on how he votes on Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey admitted on Sunday: "This presents me with something of a dilemma so, to help me, I would like to hear the views of my constituents, particularly those who voted to leave the EU in 2016."

He voted against the agreement at first then voted for it when an amendment was added to limit the time of the Northern Ireland Backstop.

He told his followers before Monday's latest negotiations: "As things stand, we will be voting on exactly the same agreement as previously. That being the case, I would feel honour bound to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement."

But he warned followers that if the agreement was voted down tonight MPs were likely to vote for a 'no deal' to be removed on Wednesday and to ask to extend Article 50 on Thursday which would delay Brexit and possibly lead to a second EU Referendum.

Gordon Henderson
Gordon Henderson

He said: "If that happens there would be no Brexit and the 17.4 million people who voted to leave in 2016 would rightly feel betrayed. Democracy in the UK would be compromised and harmed irreparably.

"Voting for the Government's current Withdrawal Agreement without any change to the Backstop would be betraying our friends in Northern Ireland and could risk keeping the UK in the EU for ever.

"Voting against the Withdrawal Agreement almost certainly will make staying in the EU more likely because so many people in the political establishment want to stop Brexit. This includes many Labour MPs, a few Tories, and all the SNP and Lib Dem MPs."

He added: "I usually turn off commenting on my posts as I simply do not have time to take part in the debates my posts sometimes provoke.

"However, on this occasion I want to gauge the mood of my constituents so will allow comments on this thread. It would be good to know whether you feel I should vote for or against the Withdrawal Agreement and why."

10.49am KMTV's Poppy Jeffery will be reporting from Westminster later today

10.45am The South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay - an arch Brexiteer - has welcomed figures indicating thatUK exported £336.9 billion worth of goods in 2018. This is an increase of £61.5 billion since 2015 – a 22 per cent increase.

“These figures show Brexit Britain is open for business, and that the excellent goods provided by businesses across the area are in demand across the world. It’s great to see that so many businesses in the UK are exporting. These results show we are in a position of strength as we begin to forge a new role for ourselves in the world – creating a UK trade policy so that we can build a country that works for everyone.”

10.40am One interesting issue about any delay or extension of Article 50 is whether the UK would have to take part in EU elections, due to take place on May 23. Campaign group Leave Means Leave says that the UK should and has gone so far as to take legal advice and is preparing to take the government to court - here's part of its statement on the issue:

"There have been suggestions that a limited extension to Article 50, ending before the new EU European Parliament sits in early July, would negate the need for the UK to participate in EU elections. Leave Means Leave does not accept this argument. Such timing is clearly a tactic to avoid UK participation and cannot be trusted."

If you've missed any of our Brexit coverage over the last few months you can find it all here.

9.33am Sir Roger Gale has spoken to kmfm and shared a message to his fellow MPs

9.28am There is more to life than Brexit - find out what else is going on in the county here.

From yesterday: Anti-Brexit billboards appeared in a Kent town this week

Led By Donkeys has been spreading its message to drivers heading towards Sandwich (7693683)
Led By Donkeys has been spreading its message to drivers heading towards Sandwich (7693683)

9.09am For those gloomy about the UK’s prospects after Brexit - should it happen - the odds on food rationing being brought in are 12-1.

9am Chancellor of the University of Kent shares his views on what Theresa May has to say

8.53am Brexit has inspired all sorts of creative and not so creative thinking. One artist set up a phone box so people could leave their messages for the EU

8.44am Listen to kmfm's bulletin from the day David Cameron resigned following the referendum two and a half years ago

8.42am Uncertainty over Brexit may be fuelling uncertainty among businesses but it has seen a boost for bookmakers - who are offering odds on an increasingly eclectic range of outcomes.

Paddy Power is among them, offering 10-1 on trains not to run through the Channel Tunnel for seven consecutive days or more in 2019.

8.30am Fact or fiction? We look at some of the more bizarre claims made about Brexit and find out the truth. Click here to read more.

Brexit (7647214)
Brexit (7647214)

8.22am Watch as Roger Gale tries to explain Brexit to Primary School children

8.12am Greg Clark

Secretary of State Greg Clark MP visting Wisbech. (5951093)
Secretary of State Greg Clark MP visting Wisbech. (5951093)

The MP for Tunbridge Wells encouraged everyone to come together in the national interest.

He said: Whatever party you belong to, there is an overwhelming need to come together in the national interest and agree compromise where necessary and come to a view that commands the majority and just get on with it.

"Businesses need that confidence if they are to keep jobs and create new ones on which we all depend. The deal allows us to export to the EU without any tariffs or quotas; without bureaucratic checks at the borders which could lead to hold-ups and checks; there is a two year transitional period which allows us to leave in an orderly way; businesses have backed it.

"At the same time, we are leaving and won’t be making any further financial contributions and it absolutely respects the results of the referendum. It is easy to criticise but I haven’t seen any constructive suggestions which would improve it."

8.03am Listen to the director of highways, transport and waste for Kent County Council, Simon Jones

8am KMTV will be live at Westminster getting reaction today. Tune in to Kent Tonight at 5.30pm or click here.

Does this all seem familiar? This is how the last vote played out.

7.49am Sir Roger Gale has pledged his support to the PM

From earlier: Members of the Dover Brexit ‘taskforce’ met last week and reiterated their concerns at the use of Manston as a key part of Operation Brock, saying using it to hold up to 6000 lorries could itself cause major problems.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said that using the airport site made no sense and that it would not work.

Read more here.

Charlie Elphicke
Charlie Elphicke

7.40am Listen to Fiona Gaffney Kent Resilience Forum's Brexit coordinator

7.31am To read all of the latest news on Brexit click here

7:25am Damian Collins put himself firmly on one side of the chamber last night

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