May refuses to rule out 'no deal' Brexit


Britain's last-minute scramble to shape its exit from the European Union has hit the rocks as Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dug in their heels for competing visions.

Downing Street has also refused to consider a second European Union referendum or extending Article 50.

The wraparound advertisement (above) is accompanied by 132 photographs of Labour Party members who speak to the Islington North and Labour party leader directly, saying: "We need you to back a public vote".

Ministers in Theresa May's Government are prepared to defy her and to vote for a backbench plan to give MPs power to block a no-deal Brexit, a Tory MP has warned.

Mr Corbyn's comments frustrated those MPs who want Labour to back a second referendum now, as they noted how the government's survival of a no-confidence vote on Wednesday night had seen the chances of a general election diminish.

One of its architects, Cathleen Clarke, 22, said had been "inspired" by Mr Corbyn when he first ran for the Labour leadership. The company that operates the Eurotunnel says a quarter of all Britain-EU trade passes through the tunnel, which could be a major chokepoint in a no-deal Brexit.

Corbyn said that, under certain conditions, he would look at options including another referendum - a remark that increased expectations in financial markets that the political chaos would ultimately delay or even stop Brexit.

She is to publish an updated plan of action on European Union withdrawal to Parliament on Monday, 21 January, with a full debate and the key vote on it scheduled for Tuesday, 29 January.

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The €50m will be invested in infrastructure at ports, airports and borders "most concerned" by the prospects of a no-deal, he said.

"The fact that my team are willing to continue talking to her team of senior ministers this morning suggests that at least there is a willingness to explore these things", the Lib Dem leader said.

"I'm not convinced she's willing to loosen any of the red lines she's set herself", said the Green MP.

"I think most people in this country feel they have had quite enough elections", he said.

Mrs May is expected to maintain an intensive round of meetings and phone calls before setting out her Plan B on Monday, in a Commons motion which crucially can be amended by MPs.

Under EU rules for a member state leaving the bloc "we will leave the EU without a deal on 29 March unless parliament either agrees a deal with the EU or the United Kingdom revokes Article 50 and chooses to stay in the EU permanently", she wrote.

Amendments are expected to be tabled to seek parliamentary support for a range of options, from ruling out no-deal to extending the two-year Article 50 process or calling a second referendum. MPs will then be able to vote on the following Tuesday, January 29.

Nick Boles told the BBC that some non-Cabinet ministers had told him directly they would quit if whipped against a bill allowing parliamentarians to demand Article 50 be extended for fresh talks with Brussels. Estimates of up to 40% of Labour voters in 2017 supported Leave.