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Brexit vote delayed

By Paul Francis

The government has postponed tomorrow’s vote on its Brexit deal.

Theresa May made an announcement in the house of commons this afternoon, admitting the deal would have been rejected had it gone ahead.

She says she is still negotiating with the EU to get the best option.

During the debate, Ashford MP Damian Green asked the Prime Minister for an update on the Irish backstop after her discussions with EU leaders in the last few days and if progress is possible. He also wanted assurances that a deal could be made.

She responded saying European leaders are open to discussions about the backstop and she is confident further changes can be made to the deal.

Meanwhile, Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent told the house: "On Friday, I visited a haulage business in my constituency and the owner told me how worried he was about the possibility of no deal and how it will affect his business.

"Does [Mrs May] agree when we come to vote on the withdrawal agreement, we must remember not only the importance of honouring the referendum result but also the importance of people's jobs and livelihoods that depend on trade with the EU?"

The prime minister replied: "I think it's very important both that we do deliver on the result of the referendum but we recognise the need to do that in a way that enables us to leave in a smooth and orderly way, and does indeed protect those many jobs which depend on the trading relationship with the EU."

Kent MPs are split on the issue although there are marginally more who have said they oppose the deal than supported it.

The European Court of Justice has ruled the UK can cancel Brexit without needing the permission of the other 27 EU members.

Last week, Kent County Council published a report released an updated 17-page report on its contingency plans for a no-deal scenario.

Among the authority's concerns were that gridlocked roads caused by problems at the ports would cause rubbish to mount up uncollected, children to miss important school exams, and carers unable to reach vulnerable patients.

MPs will no longer get to vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal tomorrow
MPs will no longer get to vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal tomorrow

ANALYSIS

Even by the current standards of political contortions, the decision by Theresa May to postpone the long anticipated debate on the Brexit deal represents a humiliating climbdown.

Just hours before the Commons debate got underway news filtered out that the Prime Minister was to withdraw the bill.

It is a measure of the chaos in government that just as the news was coming out, journalists were being briefed that the vote would be going ahead - echoing a number of similar firm commitments from ministers just 24 hours earlier.

MPs were marched to the top of the Brexit hill only to be marched back down again.

What does this tell us about Theresa May and her government?

It exposes a familiar fault line: namely that when it comes to Europe the Conservatives are irreconcilably split.

So far as the prime minister is concerned, all bets are off.

Her authority is diminished - you only had to hear the pantomime derision that greeted her statement in the Commons to know that.

Where she goes now is anyone's guess but her leadership is hanging by a very narrow thread.

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