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General election: Boris Johnson launches Conservative election campaign – as it happened

Rolling coverage of the day’s developments in the 2019 general election campaign

11.34pm GMT

That’s all from us this evening. Thanks for reading and commenting. Here’s a summary of the day’s events:

Related: Tom Watson quits as Labour deputy leader and steps down as MP

10.42pm GMT

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have finalised a plan to step aside for each other in 60 seats across England and Wales in the general election, Peter Walker and Heather Stewart write.

The alliance is intended to give a free run to one pro-remain party in each constituency.

Related: Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and Greens launch pro-remain electoral pact

We are delighted that an agreement has been reached. We would like to thank Unite to Remain for making this possible. This is a significant moment for all people who want to support remain candidates across the country. We look forward to sharing the detail of the seats tomorrow.

10.36pm GMT

Labour’s outgoing deputy leader, Tom Watson, says his decision to step down and quit parliament was a “very personal” one.

Watson, who has represented West Bromwich East since 2001 and is one of Labour’s most recognisable figures, denied the move was the result of concerns over the direction of the party under Jeremy Corbyn, with whom he has often clashed.

I want every Labour supporter campaigning for the Labour team to make sure we can get a Labour government elected.

10.11pm GMT

The former Derby North MP, Chris Williamson, has resigned his membership of the Labour party and announced he will stand as an independent in the general election. The party’s national executive committee ruled earlier today that they would not endorse him.

After almost 44 years of loyal service and commitment, it’s with a heavy heart that I’m resigning from the Labour Party.

I’ll be standing as an independent candidate for Derby North to fight for social justice, internationalism and socialist values. pic.twitter.com/rKmxpJrFSP

I am dismayed that Labour party officials have enabled and executed what I believe to be a witch hunt against hundreds of socialists loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and his transformative, socialist, anti-imperialist worldview.

Many of the victims of this witch hunt have been Jewish socialists, whose anti-Zionism is anathema to the apartheid apologists apparently influencing Labour foreign and domestic policy.

9.22pm GMT

Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP who was falsely accused of being part of a VIP pedophile ring in Westminster, has said Watson has “done his constituents a great favour” by stepping down.

Proctor, who served in the Commons in the 1970s and 1980s, has now abandoned his plans to run against Watson in next month’s general election. He said:

By standing down, Tom Watson has done his constituents a great favour. The next parliament will be a healthier place without him. He will be unable to use public office in future to promote false accusers for personal and political ends.

Although this is not the end of it for Tom Watson, I feel vindicated. I can now confirm I will not be standing in the West Bromwich East constituency at the general election.

8.50pm GMT

Daniel Janner, the son of Lord Janner – one of the victims of the VIP abuse probe sparked by Carl Beech – said Tom Watson’s position had become “untenable”. Janner has been a fierce critic of Watson, whom he has previously accused of applying “pressure on the police”.

Tom Watson whipped up the post-Savile hysteria which damaged falsely accused innocent prominent figures like my late father Lord Janner. His position had become untenable. He has stood down because he would have been defeated.

8.49pm GMT

Returning to Labour, here’s a little reaction to the news the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, is standing down.

From Labour:

Thank you Tom for a lifetime of dedication to the Labour Party and just as importantly thank you for 25 years of friendship https://t.co/VT5VY4tH26

A giant loss to the Commons – but I know Tom has plenty more to give to politics, public life – and Labour, “the greatest force for social change this country has ever produced” https://t.co/6q3CyuJJ5e

Very sad news for the Labour Party, for Parliament and the country. https://t.co/GMBLNqL5CB

Wow, this is big… (conveniently timed to coincide with the PM’s rally) #GeneralElection2019 https://t.co/LzLZONvrBT

8.22pm GMT

In his letter to Watson, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has said:

Few people have given as much to the Labour movement as you have and I know that many thousands of members and trade unionists that you have inspired and worked with over the years will be very sorry to see you go.

Thank you @tom_watson for your service to our party and your constituents. I know you’ll continue to take on the vested interests of the Murdoch empire, big sugar companies and the gambling industry. This is not the end of our work together. pic.twitter.com/MpYLVklHdr

8.11pm GMT

Johnson has concluded his speech, thanking supporters and telling them: “I will see you at the barricades.”

8.07pm GMT

The prime minister repeated the claim that Corbyn has done a deal with the SNP. We covered the provenance of that here.

And he said he didn’t know what Corbyn wanted to achieve in renegotiations with the EU. Writing for the Guardian in September, the Labour leader outlined what he wanted to see in his Brexit deal:

Related: Only Labour will give the people a final say on Brexit | Jeremy Corbyn

Labour’s leave deal would include a new UK-EU customs union, a close relationship with the single market, protections of the Good Friday agreement with no hard border, securing the permanent rights of three million EU nationals in the UK and one million UK nationals in Europe, guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections, and membership of key bodies to ensure joint cooperation in areas like climate change, counter-terrorism and medicines.

8.04pm GMT

Johnson has said Corbyn wants “unlimited and uncontrolled immigration”.

Labour has expressed support for no such thing. At its conference, the party backed a policy that would protect the current principle of free movement rights enjoyed by EU citizens and extend them; though it’s not entirely clear to what extent. It’s also committed to closing all immigration detention centres and ending “no recourse to public funds” policies.

Related: Labour members back proposal to give all UK residents voting rights

8.02pm GMT

Tom Watson is quitting parliament and stepping down as Labour’s deputy leader, reopening the debate about the party’s direction under Jeremy Corbyn.

Watson, who is one of Labour’s best-known figures, has represented the constituency of West Bromwich East since 2001.

Related: Tom Watson to quit as Labour deputy leader and stand down as MP

7.58pm GMT

Johnson has also attacked the Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage:

Boris Johnson suggests that Nigel Farage is slagging off his deal because he relies on Brexit not happening – “like candle sellers on the dawn of the electric lightbulb”

7.58pm GMT

And Johnson makes further claims about the number of police officers he plans to recruit. We covered that here.

7.56pm GMT

Johnson claims “40 new hospitals [have been] green-lighted” as part of the Tories’ policies.

This claim is false. The government has announced six hospital upgrades. Dozens of other hospitals have received money to develop plans for upgrades – but not for the actual upgrades themselves. Full Fact have a good explainer here.

7.53pm GMT

Boris Johnson is now up on the stage and he opens with a joke about Andy Street’s name.

He claims he “didn’t want an election”, saying he has no choice because parliament is “paralysed” and refuses to finish the Brexit process.

Related: Brexit: Boris Johnson abandons bill in new push for December election

7.49pm GMT

In addition, Patel claims a vote for Labour would mean two more referendums in 2020: One on Brexit and one on Scottish independence. This echoes Johnson’s claim earlier today that Labour had done a deal with the SNP (see: 12.55pm).

In fact, Labour is opposed to Scottish independence and has ruled out a referendum on it in 2020, committing instead to a second Brexit referendum. We set out earlier how dubious the two referendums claim is. In addition, Scottish Labour has explicitly ruled out a post-election pact with the SNP.

Tories going big on “coalition of chaos” between Corbyn, SNP, Lib Dems – but will that work with voters this time after they have experienced Brexit chaos under the Tories for last 3.5 years?

James Cleverly tees up Boris Johnson: “he’s a formidable campaigner, instinctively knows what the country wants.”

7.44pm GMT

Next up is the home secretary, Priti Patel, who claims the Tories have delivered their promise on a huge NHS infrastructure investment. My colleague, Andy Sparrow, covered that earlier – suffice to say, it’s not all it seems (see 12.52pm).

She also claims the party is delivering on its pledge to put 20,000 more police officers on the streets.

Related: Boris Johnson accused of misleading public over police numbers

7.35pm GMT

The Tory mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, is up on the stage to introduce the prime minister’s election launch speech.

You’ll be able to watch that and Boris Johnson’s address at the top of this page. If the video is not yet appearing for you, please refresh the page.

7.11pm GMT

One protestor – 70-year-old Bridget Parsons of Birmingham Stand Up to Racism – says she was nearly pushed over by security who manhandled her and others away from the entrance to Boris Johnson campaign event pic.twitter.com/6PTCFPDqKW

She says she felt “shaken up” but turned up because she felt “very very angry” about Boris Johnson being prime minister

7.07pm GMT

Correspondents in Birmingham are reporting that a small group of anti-racism and austerity demonstrators has appeared in the building where Johnson is due to deliver his general election campaign launch speech shortly:

Security pushing anti-Boris Johnson protestors out of campaign launch pic.twitter.com/NbbM83joWZ

They are from Stand Up To Racism by the looks of their placards. We’re on private property so they are being ushered out by security

BREAKING: Anti-austerity protestors have managed to get within metres of Boris Johnson’s rally in West Midlands. Currently being moved of the premises by security. pic.twitter.com/Pyj1RU7121

Tories campaign launch targeted by protesters who are currently being escorted away from the venue pic.twitter.com/HLEHnglrsm

Anti racism protestors being removed ahead of Boris Johnson campaign launch pic.twitter.com/aeIdrwSnfi

Within 5 mins of arriving, pro-immigration protesters broke in. Now being herded out. #ge2019 pic.twitter.com/EeGIhEitPo

Pro-immigration protesters getting shoved away from the Boris Johnson rally in Birmingham’s NEC tonight: pic.twitter.com/34GZ6HY0Hl

6.51pm GMT

Tory activists queuing for Boris Johnson’s first stump speech – many dressed in these giant free ‘More jobs’ and ‘More funding for schools’ t-shirts pic.twitter.com/novqYyhYaG

6.21pm GMT

Lady Sylvia Hermon, who was until today Northern Ireland’s only unionist remainer MP, will not contest the general election. She has announced she will not be defending the North Down seat she took in 2001.

Serving as an MP is a tremendous privilege and I remain profoundly grateful to all those who placed their trust and confidence in me in the last five general elections.

It has undoubtedly been the greatest honour of my life to serve the people of North Down as their member of parliament since 2001 and, so, it is with enormous sadness that I have decided not to contest the next general election in December.

5.53pm GMT

There is some new YouGov polling out tonight, showing the Conservatives down two points since over the weekend. But a movement of this kind is within the margin of error, the Tory lead is still 11 points anyway and, as everyone knows, in 2017 opinion polls turned out to be a very unreliable guide to the final result. Here are the figures anyway.

Latest Westminster voting intention (5-6 Nov)

Con – 36% (-2 since 1-4 Nov)
Lab – 25% (n/c)
Lib Dem – 17% (+1)
Brexit Party – 11% (n/c)
Green – 5% (n/c)
Other – 6% (n/c)https://t.co/eqp8bcl3cM pic.twitter.com/xZj7VYi68J

5.38pm GMT

In an interview with Sky News Jeremy Corbyn has refused to confirm John McDonnell’s claim that, if Labour loses the election, both of them will have to stand down. McDonnell said this in an interview for GQ with Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor. But when asked if McDonnell was right to say Corbyn would stand down as party leader in the event of a Labour defeat, Corbyn refused to answer. He told Sky News:

John McDonnell got enticed into areas of discussion that I’m not prepared to get enticed into.

5.30pm GMT

Yesterday my colleagues Aamna Mohdin and Ben Quinn published a Guardian story about how the Lib Dems have been accused of misleading voters after a number of candidates published leaflets featuring data from an obscure company, Flavible, that is not a member of the British Polling Council to suggest they are ahead of other parties in various constituencies.

Related: Lib Dems accused of using misleading data on election material

As many have seen, campaign material has been distributed by the Liberal Democrats, tweets have been shared by individual candidates and local parties. Most have correctly labelled this data. However, a few have either themselves misinterpreted the data or intentionally mislabelled the data for political advantage.

A statement on the misuse of Flavible data. https://t.co/dcuTAlMU3L

5.14pm GMT

5.09pm GMT

Here is the latest Guardian Politics Weekly podcast. Heather Stewart is joined by Katy Balls, Anoosh Chakelian, and Jon Mellon of the British Election Study to discuss how everyone’s general election campaigns have gone so far. Plus, Peter Walker reports from the Brexit party’s official launch.

5.04pm GMT

In his Telegraph article this morning Boris Johnson suggests that Jeremy Corbyn would persecute billionaires in the way that Stalin purged the kulaks. (See 9.06am.) Later, in his speech outside Downing Street, Johnson said the Conservatives “don’t sneer” at people who set up businesses, but “cheer for them, and do what we can to help”.

At the Q&A after his speech earlier today Jeremy Corbyn was asked by my colleague Kate Proctor if it was true that he despised billionaires. He did not answer initially (they take questions in groups of fours at Labour events now), but later, after he had finished taking questions from journalists and when he was taking questions from activists, Corbyn remembered that he had forgotten the question, and he provided an answer. This is what he said:

My personal view on billionaires is that they’ve obviously got a great deal of money, and therefore they’re in a very strong position to pay a lot more in tax. And I think it would be a really good idea if they do.

So our tax plans will affect the richest 5% of our society, we will be chasing down tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens, because at the end of the day if you are doing some, what you believe to be, very clever wheeze which somehow or other is avoiding the levels of taxation that you should be paying – go further away, what happens then? You’ve got an underfunded school, an underfunded hospital, underfunded public services as a whole. It’s a moral obligation to pay your taxes, [so] that the others might get the services they need.

4.14pm GMT

4.04pm GMT

Scottish Labour’s campaign launch in Glasgow has just wrapped up, with Richard Leonard telling the audience that Scotland had the choice whether Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn was in Downing Street for Christmas, and warning voters that voting SNP was not a short cut to a Labour government.

He categorically ruled out any post-election deal with the SNP, rejecting i Nicola Sturgeon’s suggestions that she would be open to a confidence and supply-style arrangement similar to that reached between the DUP and the Tories in 2017, with a second independence referendum as her price for support.

3.54pm GMT

In his speech outside Downing Street Boris Johnson repeated his claim that a vote for Labour would amount to a vote for two referendums in 2020. “Imagine waking up on Friday 13 December and finding [Jeremy] Corbyn at the head of his technicolour yawn of a coalition and they would spend the whole of 2020 having two referendums,” Johnson said.

This has always been a dubious claim because, although Labour is committed to holding a Brexit referendum next year, it has said it would not approve a Scottish independence referendum next year – even though it would not object to holding one later in the parliament. It is also, in practice, hard to imagine Scotland holding two referendums within the space of only a few months. The last Scottish independence referendum took place almost two years after it was agreed between London and Edinburgh.

It is my intention to have a referendum next year.

On this question of will Westminster allow it or not, we are at the start of an election campaign – this is an opportunity for the people in Scotland to have their say and make their views known.

3.21pm GMT

Ofcom may investigate Kay Burley’s “empty chairing” of James Cleverly (see 9.56am), PA Media reports. The media watchdog has received numerous complaints about the Sky News presenter’s actions. Complaints are understood by the news agency to relate to Burley’s claims and the empty chair gesture. A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: “We are assessing these against our broadcasting rules before deciding whether or not to investigate.”

2.41pm GMT

Labour’s governing body has decided that the party will not endorse Chris Williamson, Stephen Hepburn and Roger Godsiff as candidates in the election, the Press Association reports. The PA story goes on:

The national executive committee (NEC) ruled that the three former Labour MPs would not be able to stand as candidates for Jeremy Corbyn’s party in the December poll.

Instead, the party will select other candidates to stand in their former constituencies.

2.35pm GMT

Jeremy Corbyn has said that, following his resignation from cabinet, Alun Cairns should also stand down as a Tory election candidate. Corbyn told journalists:

Obviously, legally [Cairns] can stand as a candidate but does he have a moral right to stand as a candidate?

If he’s stepping down as a minister because of his involvement then I would have thought the very least the Conservative party can do is not put him up as a candidate in the next election.

Cairns intention to stay on as a candidate seems pretty bold given what has emerged …that plan may not last

2.27pm GMT

This is from Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader.

Just approved the design for 27 million leaflets to go out in the campaign.

We will be giving this country the facts on Boris’ EU treaty, Labour’s Brexit betrayal and providing a real clean break option for the voters.

2.14pm GMT

On the BBC’s World at One Stephen Crabb, the former Conservative Welsh secretary, said that the story about how a former Tory aide in Wales had sabotaged a rape trial had caused considerable damage to the party in Wales. Crabb said the Tory response reflected badly on the Welsh party. He said:

A number of us who are fighting very, very tight marginal seats in Wales have felt increasingly anxious about the story – not just from a PR point of view, the story not going away – but the perception that the party itself isn’t addressing the issue in the correct way.

The nature of the story demands a far better response from the party … It shines a light on the party in Wales. It’s problematic we don’t have a woman in a senior position in Wales, we’ve never had a female Welsh conservative member of parliament and I think that reflects poorly on us in 2019.

2.03pm GMT

The National Union of Students (NUS) has launched its election manifesto, which is built around three priorities – an education system that is “accessible, funded and life-long”, an end to Brexit and “a healthy society for the good of everyone”, with affordable housing and action to tackle the climate crisis.

With the student vote expected to play a significant role in a number of constituencies, the NUS has been working hard on campuses to ensure that as many students as possible are registered to vote, despite the awkward end-of-term election date.

Investment is falling, in our education, in our health, in our businesses. Crises are growing; climate change, social care, and more. Our society is failing, and students across the UK have told us, loud and clear, that this isn’t the future they want.

The views of young people have been ignored for too long, so we’re calling on all parties to listen and commit to the action needed to create a future in which everyone can thrive.

1.15pm GMT

Commenting on Alun Cairns’ resignation, the shadow Brexit secretary, and former director of public prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, said:

[Cairns] is right to resign but he has got to face an investigation. This is a very, very serious issue. It goes well beyond a ministerial investigation. Resigning was right to do but it is not enough on its own.

1.13pm GMT

The Green party campaign launch took place in Bristol, where the local party believes it has a good chance of ousting Labour’s Bristol West incumbent Thangam Debbonaire, in the 79% remain-voting constituency.

Bristol also has a high student population, an acute affordable housing problem and at least 10,000 Extinction Rebellion members, according to local estimates. It has just become the first British city to ban diesel vehicles from parts of the centre.

This needs to be the climate election – climate change is knocking on our door. We have been Labour and Tory forever and it doesn’t change. You can vote Labour but sooner or later you get another Tory government.

12.58pm GMT

As Johnson finishes, and heads back into No 10, Sky’s Adam Boulton, who is presenting Sky News from Downing Street, shouts at him to ask if people can trust him. But he does not get a reply.

12.56pm GMT

Johnson says: if he comes back with a majority, he will get parliament working “for you”.

Parliament would come back in December, so it could get Brexit done in January.

12.55pm GMT

Johnson says the choice is “come with us”, a government that believes in a dynamic economy, or go with Labour, the only alternative.

Labour would ban Ofsted.

12.52pm GMT

Johnson says his deal delivers everything he wanted from Brexit.

He says if parliament had its way, the UK would not even leave on 31 January.

12.49pm GMT

Boris Johnson is speaking outside No 10.

He says he has just been to see the Queen, and she has agreed to dissolve parliament.

12.46pm GMT

Speaking following an election visit to a factory in Watford, the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, said:

It’s right that [Alun Cairns has] resigned. The allegations that were made are incredibly serious and I think there are real questions to be asked about why it’s taken him so long to come to this conclusion, and why he said the things he did before. I imagine as time goes on we’ll find out the answers to some of those questions.

12.43pm GMT

From ITV’s Paul Brand

Alun Cairns is the longest serving cabinet member (in the same role). The idea that this will just be a minor blip in Wales downplays the chaos it causes to the Tory campaign there. He was due to lead the Welsh Conservatives’ campaign. #GE2019

12.43pm GMT

From the broadcaster Michael Crick

Four of the last seven people to serve as Secretary of State for Wales have resigned over scandals – Ron Davies, Peter Hain (though he came back), Stephen Crabb & Alun Cairns

12.41pm GMT

And this is from Liz Saville Roberts, who has been leader of Plaid Cymru at Westminster.

I hope that Alun Cairns’ resignation as secretary of state proves to be some solace to the woman at the centre of this case, who still has received no apology from the Conservative party.

Mr Cairns’ conduct proved unquestionably that he is not fit to hold ministerial office. You simply cannot be complicit in the attempted cover-up of sabotaging a rape trial and hope to get away with it.

12.39pm GMT

The Welsh Conservatives have put out this statement about Alun Cairns’ resignation from Paul Davies, leader of the Conservative group in the Welsh assembly:

I am sorry to see Alun resign today as the secretary of state for Wales. However, under the circumstances this was the right decision for him. Alun has rightly stated that he will cooperate fully with any investigations.

I would like to thank Alun for his service to Wales as our secretary of state where he brought an end to the Severn Bridge tolls which will leave a lasting legacy on the Welsh economy.

12.33pm GMT

This is from Christina Rees, the shadow Welsh secretary, on Alun Cairns’ resignation.

My statement on the resignation of Alun Cairns as Welsh Secretary. He should do the right thing and step down as a candidate at this General Election. pic.twitter.com/pqHneBwMlW

12.26pm GMT

John Bercow, who stood down as Commons Speaker last week, has been speaking at the Foreign Press Association this morning.

He has described Brexit as the “biggest mistake” by the UK since the war, and said that the Brexit crisis will not be resolved any time soon.

BREAKING. John Bercow arrives at a meeting with the Foreign press in London for his first remarks after his retirement as HOC speaker. I’ll be tweeting everything from now on.
@FPALondonpic.twitter.com/0BWYhSVdmH

Bercow predicts that #Brexit “won’t be resolved any time soon”@FPALondon

BREAKING. Will #Brexit affect the international position of the UK?

Bercow: “I don’t think it helps the UK. #Brexit is the biggest mistake of this country after the war. I respect PM Johnson but #Brexit doesn’t help us. It’s better to be part of the [EU] power bloc”@FPALondon

Bercow announces that a book by him will be out in the first quarter of 2020 [not 2021 as I previously tweeted] @FPALondon

12.18pm GMT

Here is Alun Cairns’ resignation letter.

12.15pm GMT

Here is the exchange of letters between Boris Johnson and Alun Cairns.

Here is the exchange of letters between @AlunCairns and @BorisJohnson pic.twitter.com/K9LQPJD5nl

12.11pm GMT

These are from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Alun Cairns expected to resign in next few minutes

Cabinet minister quitting just before PM to make his big statement launching election campaign

12.00pm GMT

Boris Johnson has posted this video of himself on Twitter discussing why he is holding an election ahead of his meeting with the Queen this morning.

We will have a General Election on December 12th. It’s now up to you, the great British public, to make your voice heard.

Do you want to #GetBrexitDone or have two more referendums next year with Corbyn? pic.twitter.com/orPEc3jwE1

11.58am GMT

How do we know for certain that the election campaign is under way? Because I’m on a battle bus – the Lib Dem bus, which has a huge picture of the party leader on the side and the slogan “Jo Swinson’s Lib Dems”. It’s all quite presidential.

As an aside, this is a Chinese-made electric bus, one of two the party has in service. The electric one, for obvious reasons, does the briefer trips.

11.50am GMT

Q: Do you think renegotiating a Brexit deal with the EU will be undermined by five of your shadow cabinet saying they will vote remain?

Corbyn says his policy has always been to bring people together. He says people who voted leave and people who voted remain are likely to face the same problems, for example on housing. They have the same interests.

11.42am GMT

Corbyn is now taking questions.

Q: You say leaders must allow others to play their part. But aren’t your poll ratings so bad you are part of the problem?

Big Labour NEC meeting today at which they will probably decide future of Roger Godsiff and Chris Williamson as candidates, and maybe Keith Vaz as well. In reality, many MPs are being elected right now in secret meetings of Labour & Conservative bigwigs,
not by voters on 12 Dec

11.32am GMT

Corbyn is now on his peroration.

I’ve spent much of my life travelling around the country and the world listening to people.

That’s how you learn about the world as people actually experience it – their struggles and their hopes, their dreams and their frustrations.

11.31am GMT

And Corbyn turns to the controversy about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about Grenfell Tower.

Actually there is one more thing you need to know. They shamefully seem to think the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they didn’t have the common sense to save themselves.

I’ll tell you what’s common sense:

11.30am GMT

Corbyn refers to yesterday’s Guardian story about what pledges Tory candidates have been allowed to sign.

Related: Don’t sign pledges on NHS or climate, Tory HQ tells candidates

And isn’t it telling that Conservative candidates in this election have been told by Tory HQ that they’re not allowed to pledge to tackle the climate emergency?

They’re not allowed to pledge not to privatise our NHS.

11.27am GMT

Corbyn says he wants to lead a Labour government judged by whether it has made a difference to people’s lives. And he sets out 10 benchmarks for success.

Here’s how you’ll be able to judge the success of the next Labour government:

Judge us on whether in-work poverty still exists in five years’ time.

Judge us on whether people are still sleeping rough after five years of a Labour government.

11.22am GMT

Corbyn says being an MP is not meant to be a glamorous job.

He says his view of leadership is different from the conventional one. That has led to him being criticised in the papers, he says.

You know my view of leadership is different from the one people are used to. Yes, I believe leaders should have clear principles that people can trust, and the strength and commitment not to be driven off course.

You have to stand for something. But leaders must also trust others to play their part.

11.18am GMT

Corbyn says real politics, for him, is not about shouting abuse in parliament. He does not do personal attacks, he says.

He says he is interested in bringing about real change.

11.17am GMT

Corbyn says he started campaigning in Telford for a better society. And he has never stopped, he says.

The Labour party is united, and determined to win this election, he says.

11.13am GMT

Jeremy Corbyn has just started delivering a speech in Telford.

There is a live feed at the top of the page.

11.00am GMT

The Facebook live feed from the Green party launch has gone back to the beginning. But a colleague is at the event, and so I will be posting more from it soon.

10.59am GMT

We’re ready for #GE2019

This is the #ClimateElection! pic.twitter.com/N1arCKbSe3

This picture shows (left to right) Sian Berry, Carla Denyer and Amelia Womack.

10.57am GMT

Sian Berry, the party’s co-leader, is speaking at the launch now. She says this election is about far more than Brexit.

This must be the climate election. The future won’t get another chance.

10.55am GMT

Back at the Green party launch Amelia Womack, the party’s deputy leader, has just finished speaking. She said voters should accept no imitations. The Greens were the only party truly serious about tackling the climate emergency, she argued.

10.53am GMT

According to the Press Association, Boris Johnson spent just over 25 minutes with the Queen at Buckingham Palace this morning.

10.51am GMT

10.48am GMT

Carla Denyer, the Green party candidate in Bristol West, is speaking at the launch now.

She says ordinary people all over the country are demanding climate action.

Related: Green party pledges to spend £100bn on tackling climate crisis

10.45am GMT

The Green party election launch has just started.

There is a (rather shaky) live feed on the Green party’s Facebook page.

Our #GE2019 election launch is about to start! #ClimateElection

Watch live on our Facebook page: https://t.co/iE50OeIoZ3 pic.twitter.com/2JPza2H6Q6

10.38am GMT

Boris Johnson’s audience with the Queen is over. He is now heading back to No 10.

He is due to give a speech outside Downing Street at 1pm.

10.28am GMT

Yesterday afternoon, long after Jacob Rees-Mogg had apologised for his comment about the Grenfell Tower victims lacking the sense to ignore the advice to stay put, the Tory MP Andrew Bridgen (a Brexiter, and hence a natural ally of Rees-Mogg’s) went on the PM programme and in part defended what the cabinet minister had said. Bridgen suggested that Rees-Mogg may indeed have been cleverer than the Grenfell Tower victims.

This morning Bridgen himself has apologised for what he said.

I realise that what I said was wrong and caused a great deal of distress and offence. It was not my intention to do so, and I do not want to add in any way to the pain that this tragic event has caused. I apologise unreservedly.

10.15am GMT

Boris Johnson has tweeted this.

On my way to see Her Majesty the Queen pic.twitter.com/SRUowknlYI

10.14am GMT

The PM’s audience with the Queen is little more than a pointless photo opportunity.

In the past prime ministers who wanted to hold a general election had to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament, and so a trip to Buckingham Palace was always part of the election ritual.

10.08am GMT

Boris Johnson has just left Downing Street to drive to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen.

10.08am GMT

Ed Vaizey, the Conservative former culture minister, has announced that he is standing down. He was one of the 21 Tories who had the whip removed in September after rebelling over Brexit, but he was also one of the 10 from that group who recently had the whip restored.

In an open letter to the PM, he says that he remains an “enthusiastic supporter” of Johnson and of Johnson’s “one-nation agenda”.

After much reflection I have decided not to stand at the next election. I will campaign hard for my successor & look forward to @BorisJohnson and @conservatives winning a great majority. Thanks to all in Wantage & Didcot who supported me over so many years #vexit pic.twitter.com/irVsn1G2a2

9.56am GMT

Broadcasters are often reluctant to “empty chair” politicians. They worry that it makes them look confrontational and partisan, in breach of their impartiality obligations – even though not highlighting a party’s refusal to answer legitimate questions could arguable be seen as conferring some sort of advantage.

So it was surprising – and refreshing, if you approve of these tactics – to see Sky’s Kay Burley pillory the Conservative chairman James Cleverly this morning, in his absence, for ducking out of her TV interview. Do watch it. It’s quite a moment, not least because Burley’s summary of all the awkward questions facing the Tories is hard to fault.

“And yet we have an empty chair”

Pretty devastating rundown of Tory blunders by @KayBurley while party chairman James Cleverly is 15ft away and refusing to come on air

pic.twitter.com/JIpGmmBBPY

9.39am GMT

Former Scottish secretary David Mundell believes Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about the Grenfell victims were “inappropriate” but insists it is “totally without foundation” to infer that they show Conservatives do not understand how the majority of people in the UK live their lives.

Interviewed on BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Mundell said:

Most Conservative MPs are very well grounded, they come from a huge variety of backgrounds and the caricature that everybody is like Mr Rees-Mogg is wrong.

9.32am GMT

The Conservative chairman, James Cleverly, has been doing a round of interviews this morning. Here are the key points from his interview on the Today programme.

What we also did, and this is not unique to us, is we did a lighthearted satirical video, obviously so with a comedy soundtrack, highlighting the Labour party’s chaotic position on Brexit.

Tory chair @JamesCleverly denies that an edited video of Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer shared on the Conservatives’ social media feed is fake news. He says it was a “lighthearted, satirical video”#r4Today | https://t.co/2gJ35rEiQ3 | @bbcnickrobinson pic.twitter.com/e7ahoOKt05

Ultimately, the default setting has always been no deal. That is not what we want.

The prime minister has demonstrated, as have the EU, that, when you are focused and both trying to get a good outcome, it can be done.

This is a comment that the candidate themselves recognised was unacceptable. People often tweet in haste and regret what they have done afterwards.

I think there are always things that people do which they regret. They say foolish, sometimes insensitive things. We do take very seriously the language we use and sometimes we recognise that people make a mistake and, when they do so, if they recognise what they have done wrong and they apologise, I think that is taken into consideration. I think that’s a balanced approach.

9.06am GMT

Almost every general election in Britain in living memory has started with pundits predicting that the campaign is going to end up being the nastiest and dirtiest ever. In truth, those claims are probably often wrong, but it is going to be hard to pretend otherwise in 2019 when Boris Johnson is formally launching the Conservative general election campaign by comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin. The prime minister has said so in an article (paywall) in the Daily Telegraph, a few hours before he goes to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen. (She is a Telegraph reader, but quite what she makes of this diatribe is anyone’s guess.)

Here is the key quote from Johnson’s article, which the Telegraph has plastered all over its front page.

The tragedy of the modern Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn is that they detest the profit motive so viscerally – and would raise taxes so wantonly – that they would destroy the very basis of this country’s prosperity. They pretend that their hatred is directed only at certain billionaires – and they point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks. In reality they would end up putting up taxes on everyone: on pensions, on businesses, on inheritance, on homes, on gardens.

The nonsense the super-rich will come out with to avoid paying a bit more tax… pic.twitter.com/FlUl29ksvz

Continue reading…

Brexit legislation ‘paused’ after MPs reject Boris Johnson’s timetable – as it happened

Parliament votes to reject government’s timetable for passage of bill that would implement Brexit deal

10.39pm BST

That’s all from us this evening. Here’s a summary of the day’s events:

Related: MPs reject Boris Johnson’s attempt to fast-track Brexit deal

10.23pm BST

If, as expected, Brexit is delayed until the end of January, a general election would have to follow, the Press Association reports, citing an unnamed No 10 source.

Parliament and Corbyn have repeatedly voted for delay. On Saturday, parliament asked for a delay until January and, today, parliament blew its last chance. If parliament’s delay is agreed by Brussels, then the only way the country can move on is with an election. This parliament is broken.

The public will have to choose whether they want to get Brexit done with Boris or whether they want to spend 2020 having two referendums on Brexit and Scotland with Corbyn.

No10 source tonight.

Three points.

1). Parliament hasn’t blown its last chance. The 31st deadline was set by Brussels. The PM has said it’s his final deadline but Brussels is open to an extension.

2). Benn Act was passed by MPs but PM sent the letter.

1/ pic.twitter.com/FywKxdufYM

Johnson is the author of his own misfortune. He only tried to bounce his deal through parliament because he knows it will not withstand scrutiny. A Brexit deal driven by the ideology of deregulation must be stopped.

9.47pm BST

The European council president, Donald Tusk, has said he will recommend the EU accept the UK’s request for a Brexit extension.

Following PM @BorisJohnson’s decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal #Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension. For this I will propose a written procedure.

Related: EU signals it is likely to give UK a Brexit delay up to 31 January

9.32pm BST

Donald Tusk has tweeted to say he will recommend accepting the UK’s request for a Brexit extension:

Following PM @BorisJohnson’s decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal #Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension. For this I will propose a written procedure.

9.11pm BST

The Tories are trying to sell this evening’s votes as a victory for the prime minister on the substance – and a refusal by Labour to then let him make the progress he wants to:

#BREAKING: @BorisJohnson‘s Brexit deal has passed Parliament tonight.

But now Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have voted to delay it, yet again.

RT to back Boris pic.twitter.com/ZAunzPfeMp

Really significant votes tonight. Parliament defeated Johnson’s attempt to rush through his deeply flawed deal. I spoke with many colleagues who agonised over these votes. Whether you agree or disagree, they should be respected.

You’re all thinking: another extension. I am thinking: another three weeks listening to Farage pic.twitter.com/Cob2wPmghP

8.55pm BST

Labour MPs who voted for the government’s Brexit deal at second reading this evening have called for more time to discuss it at committee stage. Gareth Snell has said:

The injury inflicted this evening was a mere flesh wound, and if the Leader of the House was willing to bring forward a motion tomorrow with a more considered timetable for committee stage, it would pass this House.

Some of us voted for second reading precisely so we could get on to the next stage for more scrutiny, and didn’t support the programme motion because we did not believe there was sufficient time.

All we’re asking for is the opportunity to ensure that the deal which was only presented to us last night works for our constituents and my local economy – we need slightly more time.

We could have a lot longer on committee stage and he could bring forward tomorrow morning a fresh programme motion which allows us longer in committee for us to actually put amendments in a timely fashion.

I am not unsympathetic to the point about time, it is simply the deadline of 31 October which was set by the European Union and, therefore, we are compressed in the time available to get this bill delivered, which is why I was willing to support the programme motion and felt that it was reasonable under the circumstances.

8.50pm BST

Much has been made of the significance of the prime minister’s decision to “pause” his bill, rather than pull it altogether – as well as that of his decision not to explicitly refer to 31 October when telling the Commons the UK will still leave the EU under the terms of his deal.

The leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has now said it is “very hard to see how it is possible” for the withdrawal agreement bill to pass by that date. The Conservative MP and ardent Brexiter, Peter Bone, asked:

Leader of the House, can we interpret from what you are saying that it is now impossible to get the deal through this House and the other House prior to 31 October, and in that case it is effectively dead for approval before that date.

Impossible is a very strong word, but it is very hard to see how it is possible.

Boris Johnson still paying the price for losing DUP with his Brexit deal.
Letwin amendment would not have passed if the DUP had voted with the government.
If the 10 DUP MPs had voted tonight for his breakneck programme motion, it would have passed.

Once again the DUP are the difference between the govt winning & losing https://t.co/hdD0l3qiJg

“Under no circumstances will I ask for a delay”. He asked for a delay.

“We will leave on 31 October do or die.” We will not leave on 31 October.

“I will pull the bill”. He is not pulling the bill.

I don’t know if this is really a house that has “come together, and embraced a deal” as @BorisJohnson put it. But they have certainly voted for a deal.

In principle. https://t.co/qjhhqb9PXa

Boris Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” by October 31 seems to have evaporated at the precise point he spotted the right opportunity to force a general election.

The whole of the Conservative parliamentary party – 285 MPs – backed both the second reading and the programme motion. Impressive whipping.

Counterpoint is that the ex-Tory independents killed the programme motion tonight. Had the decision not been made last month to withdraw the whip, how would they have voted? In fact, had the attempt to prorogue parliament not been made, how many would even have backed Benn act? https://t.co/XQXT4KoERw

8.27pm BST

We’re getting some reaction now from senior EU27 figures. The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said:

It’s welcome that the House of Commons voted by a clear majority in favour of legislation needed to enact withdrawal agreement. We will now await further developments from London and Brussels about next steps; including timetable for the legislation and the need for an extension.

@EU_Commission takes note of tonight’s result and expects the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps. @eucopresident is consulting leaders on the UK’s request for an extension until 31 January 2020.

NEW: Multiple Brussels diplomats telling me they expect EU to follow Benn Act and give (a prob flexible) extension until January 31st.
*Crucially* am told that, if there is unanimous backing, this could be done in writing – rather than going through full council.@SkyNews

Related: EU signals it is likely to give UK a Brexit delay up to 31 January

EU source rejects the PMs assertion in Parliament just now that the ball is back in the EUs court now (regarding extension etc). EU leaders say they wait to hear from Boris Johnson as to what his next steps are /1

8.17pm BST

The division list for the programme motion shows just five Labour MPs rebelled to support it. They were joined by 285 Tory MPs and 18 independents in supporting the motion. Those Labour MPs are:

8.08pm BST

No current Conservative MPs voted against the government on the withdrawal agreement bill. But three former Tory members from whom the whip was withdrawn last month did:

8.03pm BST

In all, 19 Labour MPs rebelled to support the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement bill. They were:

7.58pm BST

Following the programme motion vote, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, told MPs:

The facts of the matter are this is yet another humiliating defeat for the prime minister this evening who has sought to railroad through this house legislation that requires proper scrutiny.

Furthermore, it is absolutely clear what must now happen, because there is legislation passed by this house, it is the law of the land. On the basis of not agreeing a deal, that the prime minister is instructed – instructed, prime minister – to seek an extension.

Can I ask the prime minister and everybody else to reconsider the suggestion he made that we pause the progress of the bill tomorrow?

I can’t quite see the logic of pausing progress on the bill when the whole house is expecting the next two days to be spent on it.

7.56pm BST

The leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, is on his feet setting out how the government intends to proceed. He tells MPs there will be a debate on the Queen’s speech on Wednesday and Thursday and that the Commons will not sit on Friday.

The shadow leader, Valerie Vaz, reiterates Labour’s offer to work to find a consensus on the Brexit bill’s timetabling.

7.49pm BST

Following the defeat of the programme motion, the prime minister told MPs:

Can I say in response how welcome it is, even joyful that for the first time in this long saga, this house has actually accepted its responsibilities together, come together, and embraced a deal?

I congratulate honourable members across the house on the scale of our collective achievement because, just a few weeks ago, hardly anybody believed that we could reopen the withdrawal agreement, let alone abolish the backstop. That is indeed what they were saying.

7.44pm BST

The Commons Speaker has indicated that the government intends to set out in a business statement shortly how it wants to proceed.

Boris Johnson did not mention an election once in his statement.

7.43pm BST

Here’s a little more on the comments made by Jeremy Corbyn immediately after the government’s crucial defeat on the programme motion. He told MPs:

On Saturday, this house emphatically rejected the prime minister’s deal. Tonight, the house has refused to be bounced into debating a hugely significant piece of legislation in just two days with barely any notice and analysis of the economic impact of this bill.

The prime minister is the author of his own misfortune. So I make this offer to him tonight.

7.41pm BST

Responding to this evening’s votes, the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has said:

This is not a done deal, and I won’t stop fighting for our place in the European Union. Liberal Democrat MPs will always fight to keep the best deal we have as members of the European Union.

Boris Johnson tried to ram his Brexit deal through Parliament tonight, because he knows it’s a bad deal.

7.40pm BST

Ken Clarke asks the prime minister to reconsider pausing the deal, saying he cannot see the logic of pausing progress on it when the Commons is looking for time to debate it.

7.38pm BST

Boris Johnson has confirmed he will set aside the bill that would implement his deal, despite the fact the Commons has just backed it, after his proposal to fast-track it through parliament was rejected by MPs.

He says he does not want a delay and will continue to discuss with EU27 leaders until they decide whether or not to grant one.

‘One way or another we will leave the EU with this deal, to which this house has just given its agreement’ – claims Johnson

7.36pm BST

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, says the Commons has refused to be “bounced” into passing the prime minister’s deal. He repeats his party’s offer (see 5.58pm) to work with Johnson on the timetabling.

The prime minister rises to say it is a positive development for the Commons to have backed a deal in a vote for the first time. He thanks those MPs who had concerns, but still voted with him.

7.33pm BST

MPs have voted to reject the government’s timetable for the passage of the bill that would implement the prime minister’s Brexit deal.

They voted against by 322 to 308; a majority of 14.

7.31pm BST

We’re getting some speculation in the Commons on whether or not the government will win this crucial vote.

So disappointed 2nd Reading passed – esp with help of Labour MPs who am sure genuinely believe they must do “will of people” in their constituencies, without checking if will has changed via #PeoplesVote

But this isn’t end -as Bill gets more scrutiny, more flaws will be shown

DUP in the lobbies voting No with us. And some LabLeaves. We HOPE we have defeated the Gov. let’s see.

DUP in the lobbies voting No with us. And some LabLeaves. We HOPE we have defeated the Gov. let’s see.

7.24pm BST

Here’s a little reaction from Westminster correspondents to that first result tonight:

It is only the first hurdle, but take a step back and think about what has just happened. Labour MPs, having rejected a deal under Theresa May, have indeed just backed one that is potentially worse for them under Boris Johnson.

Whatever else happens now, Boris Johnson has got further than Theresa May ever got.
If MPs vote for delay and he goes for an election, he will go into that election with evidence that he can get a deal done.

We should take a moment and consider this. Boris Johnson has managed to get the second reading of the WAB past Parliament. He’s done it by uniting the Tory Party around a deal. It’s no mean achievement.

7.17pm BST

MPs move immediately to vote on the programme motion. And, as they do, Sky’s Beth Rigby has this:

BREAK: DUP will vote against the programme motion

7.15pm BST

MPs have voted to allow the government’s withdrawal agreement bill to pass to the next stage of the parliamentary process.

They voted by 329 votes to 299; a majority of 30 on the second reading.

Chief whip has just told the PM they’ve won the vote on the second reading – one MP says he thinks he whispered, “champagne all round!”.
Government wins convincingly by 329-299 – majority of 30.

7.09pm BST

On that last-minute offer from the government, Buckland said he would bring forward an amendment to the bill to ensure that MPs can vote on any extension to the transition period. He told MPs:

This issue has been concerning members right across the house: What is to happen if there is to be potential with regard to an extension of the implementation period? We believe that we can negotiate in the time that we have now, but we accept … that parliament has a legitimate role to play.

I can bring forward an amendment to that effect that would allow parliament to have its say on the merits of an extension of the implementation period. And the government will abide by that.

7.04pm BST

Before concluding his remarks, Buckland had an offer for soft Brexit-backing MPs:

Boris Johnson has made a concession to soft Brexit Tories – amendment for “parliament to have its say on merits of an extension period” in 2020 if no free trade agreement. Will it be enough to persaude Gauke, Hammond, Stewart to vote for programme motion?

CONCESSION: David Gauke asking whether it will say *on the face of the bill* that there will be a vote by July next year on whether implementation period should be extended – and abide by it.
Robert Buckland says yes. Does that mean the programme motion is now in the bag?

Gauke, together with Philip Hammond and Rory Stewart, has been pressing for reassurance on this issue.

That concession from Buckland, that parliament will have an opportunity to bind the government to extend the transition, should deliver a few more votes on the programme motion for the government. Still going to be mighty tight, though

6.56pm BST

The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, is on his feet in the Commons. He’ll be the final speaker before MPs vote, he says.

Buckland notes that he was a remainer during the referendum campaign and says he has just heard the word “traitor” muttered. He calls for the tone to be raised, saying: “It’s not easy but we’re here to do ‘difficult’.” Buckland adds that he is being told by voters: “For the love of God, get on with it.”

6.32pm BST

The Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has raised concerns about the “plight” of UK citizens living in the EU, their pension rights and healthcare, saying he has received “harrowing” emails from individuals around Europe expressing their fears about what they might face. Reading the withdrawal agreement bill, he said:

Scour as I could, I found not one word of comfort for UK citizens living abroad in Europe.

I’m pleased to say that he has taken this onboard immediately and courteously and I am assured that the rights and the concerns of UK citizens will be taken into account and that a confirmatory letter to that effect will be with me in the next couple of days.

Related: British pensioners in Europe struggle to make ends meet, committee told

6.25pm BST

The SNP MP, Joanna Cherry, will vote against the second reading and against the programme motion, she has said. Cherry told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme:

What we believe should happen is that an extension should be obtained from the European Union in order to enable either a general election or a second referendum to take place.

6.21pm BST

Trade groups have expressed concern as it emerges that businesses shipping goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain would be burdened with yet more Brexit red tape under the prime minister’s proposed deal.

The news that such goods would require exit declarations comes after the government’s risk assessment on the Brexit deal flagged that the profitability of businesses trading to and from Northern Ireland could be affected by the cost of checks and administration.

This is another layer of administration and red tape which we were promised Brexit would remove. One of the reasons for Brexit was because of red tape, but all we are seeing for the last two and half years is the likelihood of more and more red tape.

I think everyone was caught off guard by this because the EU weren’t pressing for this to be implemented.

The new deal includes a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea, bringing with it the concept of export summary declarations. It is still unclear what exactly these will look like, they will be discussed and agreed by the joint committee during the transition period should the prime minister’s deal pass.

It is, however, clear that there will be some paperwork for goods going both ways (NI to GB and GB to NI). Whatever these forms turn out to be, it will be very different from what we have now – adding a further administrative burden to businesses and slowing down the on-time delivery model that many companies operate.

5.58pm BST

Labour has said it will seek a consensus with the government on the timetable for the withdrawal agreement bill, but that it will not accept the three-day process the prime minister is trying to force through.

The current timetable does not provide for sufficient scrutiny of the legal text of the Brexit deal.

Labour remain available to seek to agree a consensus on a timetable to scrutinise this deal that would command the support of all sides of the House. pic.twitter.com/SlKYIqvnaT

5.40pm BST

Michel Barnier has fuelled fears of a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020 after suggesting future negotiations on a trade deal might require more than three years of talks, our Brussels bureau chief, Daniel Boffey, reports.

Speaking to the European parliament, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator appeared to concede the 14-month transition period would not allow time to reach agreement on a new trade and security arrangement. He said such talks could take “three years or more”.

The current transition period, during which the UK will stay in the single market and customs union but not be part of the EU’s decision-making bodies, finishes at the end of December 2020.

Related: Barnier says Brexit transition talks likely to exceed 2020 deadline

5.37pm BST

The FT’s politics team has calculated that Boris Johnson is just two votes off passing his programme motion, which will force the Brexit bill through parliament in three days.

@FinancialTimes analysis of Commons arithmetic for the programme motion vote tonight suggests Boris could lose by -3.

But the situation is incredibly fluid – only requires two MPs to change their minds. All down to Independent Tories now.https://t.co/O5GarJTsOw pic.twitter.com/Qs6mXNBQMy

5.26pm BST

The Irish Mirror is reporting that the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is keen to get Brexit done by 31 October because he has tickets to see Cher on 1 November.

“He has tickets for the pop legend in Dublin’s 3Arena on November 1 and wants to enjoy it properly,” the paper reports.

5.18pm BST

From the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief:

What about the almost inevitable offer of 3 months extension that can be shortened upon ratification? This feels like an attempt to blame EU/remain parl for a gen elex… and I dont think it quite works… think be clear that will be Johnson’s call on gen elex. Not anyone else’s https://t.co/VkncY6CU1H

OR it is an attempt to spin away the fact that Boris Johnson is not going to die in a ditch over 31 October… we shall soon see, I suppose

5.05pm BST

The Guardian has published this piece by an anonymous civil servant who works on the government’s Operation Yellowhammer, which is responsible for preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

More and more civil servants are being pulled in to work on the project, they say:

The official reason we are given for this new phase is that the UK, thanks to its self-hating parliament, can’t be sure that the EU will grant a Brexit extension, thus making no deal more likely. But the real reason, of course, is to help to terrify craven MPs into voting for the deal by carrying out a pre-Halloween dress rehearsal of what no deal will actually feel like.

Much of this Yellowhammer shtick is just for show. As a civil servant I’m angry about that – and so should you be. There’s a risk, though, of anger giving way to boredom. Even this week, the prime minister is counting on MPs just being too bored to scrutinise the dense legalese of the 110-page withdrawal agreement bill within three backbreaking days.

Related: I work on Operation Yellowhammer. We all know what we’re doing is for show | The civil servant

4.49pm BST

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson is now speaking. He says he would love to be voting for a bill, but he simply can’t. He says he has no desire to stay within the EU, but he does insist that Northern Ireland leaves on the same terms as the rest of the UK.

He says:

We will be left in an arrangement whereby EU law on all trade, goods etc will be applied to Northern Ireland. We will be in a situation where we will be subject – despite what the prime minster says – to the full implementation of EU customs regulations and that means that goods moving from GB into Northern Ireland will be subject to declarations, checks, tariffs being imposed.

And now we find out yesterday that, despite the promise of unfettered access to the UK market, checks will occur in the opposite direction for those thousands of firms in Northern Ireland that currently export to GB and don’t face any impediments or costs at the moment.

VIDEO: ‘The Prime Minister thinks I can’t read the agreement and I can’t see in that agreement what the impact is in Northern Ireland’.

DUP’s Sammy Wilson (@eastantrimmp) hits out at the PM’s #Brexit deal and his attitude towards Northern Irish MPs. pic.twitter.com/v7yHNy8bqV

4.42pm BST

Dominic Grieve is speaking. He says we are at the end of a long process and we are “very tired and very weary”.

He says that the Brexit bill related to an international treaty and, as such, changing it unilaterally was out of the question. “We can provide some safeguards,” he says. “We could put in a referendum lock and I will vote for that in due course.”

4.31pm BST

The shadow international trade secretary getting some shut-eye before tonight’s late sitting of parliament.

I know how you feel @BarryGardiner #BrexitFatigue pic.twitter.com/DhPmSt30am

4.28pm BST

This from the FT’s political editor –

NEW Am told that @BorisJohnson is now ready to accept a ten day Brexit delay beyond “do or die” day on Oct 31 if he loses programme motion tonight. But only if EU says it’s the final, final extension. “They won’t do that – so in practice we’ll pull the bill,” says No 10 source

4.23pm BST

Oliver Letwin – who this weekend successfully tabled an amendment to withhold approval of the Brexit deal until the withdrawal bill is passed – has said he will back the programme motion that pushes the bill through in three days.

Another ex-Tory rebel backing programme motion.

Govt source says:”one or two” of the Tory independents holding out against (Stewart, Clarke, P Hammond?) and No 10 believe they want to inflict a political defeat on the PM

All v tight and depends on pro deal Lab/ind MPs https://t.co/UctUilZBd6

This is, of course, exactly the impact Boris Johnson hoped his threat of pulling the bill would have… https://t.co/VuxpNDAibq

4.10pm BST

Sinn Féin’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, has suggested that a border poll on Irish unity is likely to happen within five years due to Brexit upheaval, the Press Association reports.

O’Neill said polls show the necessity for debate and planning to begin on preparations for a border poll, and then beyond that to a united Ireland.

Everything is moving in that direction. I believe it was moving there even before Brexit, but clearly Brexit has become a catalyst for it. What is important to note is the German example. I think with the Berlin Wall, Germany was reunited within a year … the fact that events overtook and the country was unified within a year.

Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill says while they want a poll on a united Ireland within five years, the fall of the Berlin Wall shows unity can happen sooner than expected. pic.twitter.com/hVduLgmP71

4.02pm BST

The shadow chancellor tweets that the prime minister and Dominic Cummings are in a state of panic.

Johnson & Cummings clearly in a state of panic. The more their Withdrawal Bill is exposed, the greater the mounting opposition from both leavers & remainers. Perfect storm brewing for them & the people versus Parliament game is up. Hence the resort to desperate measures https://t.co/lyDaTBtWN0

3.58pm BST

From the Guardian’s deputy political editor:

Three Labour amendments to Brexit legislation so far – none on customs union or second ref

1) and 2) strengthening oversight of UK-EU joint committee that governs the protocol
3) more oversight of the ECJ dispute mechanism relating to citizens’ rightshttps://t.co/ZS3Eye3k2w

3.43pm BST

The DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly said earlier that she has “serious concerns that there has been some mistake in relation to the printing of the withdrawal agreement”.

She says she can’t find any reference to the proposed arrangements disappearing as soon as a free trade deal has been signed. “Perhaps my copy has some sort of missing pages,” she says.

Emma Little Pengelly, DUP, asks if there has been a “mistake in the printing” of the withdrawal agreement, because she can’t find clauses referred to by PM saying the “terrible” arrangements will disappear on the signing of a free trade deal with the EU pic.twitter.com/Sknogym83y

Perhaps there has been some confusion between the future decision in relation to the single market and being in a customs union, and does it not highlight the challenge that we have, Mr Speaker, that not only does the prime minister appear to need additional time to consider the real implications on the decisions being taken …

3.32pm BST

Back to the debate, the SNP’s Ian Blackford says the bill will impact on people across the UK and that the government has a duty to negotiate will all of the devolved administrations. He says he regrets the SNP hasn’t had the opportunity to work with the government on a compromise.

“Mr Speaker, what on earth are we doing pushing this legislation through in a couple of days?” he says.

3.14pm BST

An interesting prediction on what might happen next from the FT’s political editor.

A wild guess at what happens next: @BorisJohnson wins second reading, MPs who feel guilty about backing the deal then block programme motion; EU grants extension of a few weeks. Johnson accepts (and doesn’t pull bill). Brexit happens. No election till 2020. Lab changes leader.

3.10pm BST

Jeremy Corbyn says the bill sets out a deeply damaging deal and that the prime minister knows that. “Which is why he’s trying to push it through without scrutiny,” he says.

So Mr Speaker, Labour will seek more time to scrutinise. We will seek a very clear commitment on a customs union, a strong single market relationship, hard-wired commitment on workers’ rights, non-regression on environmental standards and loopholes closed to avoid the threat of a no-deal Brexit once and for all.

Lastly, Mr Speaker, the prime minister’s deal should go back to the people to give them, and not just the members of this house, the final say.

3.03pm BST

The Guardian’s political editor, Heather Stewart, reports that shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has clashed with shadow cabinet colleagues over Labour’s stance on a second referendum.

She writes:

At the weekly shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Starmer suggested Labour policy meant the party must support any amendment to the government’s withdrawal agreement bill calling for a referendum on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal – and then campaign for remain.

But in a debate that became testy at times, according to two people present, Starmer faced a backlash from colleagues including Ian Lavery and Jon Trickett. One witness said Lavery accused Starmer of “ramming this policy down my throat for 18 months”.

Related: Starmer clashes with shadow cabinet over second referendum

2.59pm BST

Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse, asks Corbyn for reassurance that Labour members “who exercise their conscience this evening and don’t follow the whip, will not have that whip removed any more than he had it removed when he exercised his conscience”.

Corbyn says he believes in the power of persuasion, but doesn’t directly answer the question. “I would like to persuade my honourable friend,” he says. “Come with us. Vote against this bill and vote against the programme motion.”

2.55pm BST

Here’s our story on Boris Johnson’s threat to pull the Brexit bill and seek an election.

Related: Johnson threatens to scrap Brexit bill and seek election before Christmas

Boris Johnson has threatened to pull the Brexit legislation and seek an election before Christmas if MPs vote to stop him rushing it through the House of Commons in three days.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister said a vote against his timetable would delay Brexit for three months if the EU decides to grant the extension.

2.53pm BST

Lady Hermon pays tribute to Tony Blair, who she says was the architect of the Good Friday agreement. She says she knows the Labour party has anxiety that the new Brexit deal undermines the agreement and asks Corbyn to explain that.

Corbyn says the deal creates a different trading relationship with the EU in the UK and Northern Ireland. He says while there might not be an aspiration at the moment to introduce physical custom points on road borders, that the “direction of travel is not a good one”.

2.48pm BST

Steve Baker, a leading Eurosceptic Tory MP, says to Corbyn that he cherishes the memory of the interview they did together on Sky News before he became leader, where they agreed the UK should leave the EU on democratic grounds.

Corbyn says that parliament needs time to do its job and scrutinise the bill. He also says that as a former trade union organiser he learned that “you don’t give up what you’ve won”. He says the bill undermines workers’ rights.

2.44pm BST

Gloria De Piero, the MP for Ashfield, says she is also minded to support the Brexit bill “not because I support the deal, but because I don’t”. She says she wants the opportunity to amend it in parliament.

Corbyn says he understands her concerns and that “she is a great MP”. He says he hopes that she will understand why he isn’t backing it and says that she should join him in voting against the programme motion.

2.41pm BST

Jeremy Corbyn says Labour is challenging the bill. He says that, in government, Labour would renegotiate a deal with the EU and would put that to a referendum. He says the deal on the table would leave open the possibility of crashing out at the end of next year.

Lisa Nandy, one of the Labour MPs set to rebel and vote for the second reading of the Brexit bill, asks him whether he understands her position and that of the other rebels.

2.36pm BST

David Linden, the SNP MP for Glasgow East, asks the prime minister about reports on Twitter (see below), that the government will pull the withdrawal bill if the programme motion is not passed.

Johnson says:

I will in no way allow months more of this. If parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead gets its way and decided to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in those circumstances [the government cannot] continue with this … I must say that the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election. I will argue at that election: ‘Let’s get Brexit done’. And the leader of the opposition will make his case to spend 2020 having two referendums – one on Brexit and one on Scotland …

Mr Speaker, there is another path. That is to accept, as I have done, that this deal does not give us everything that we want. And all of us can find clauses and provisions to which we can [object], as we can in any compromise. But it also gives us the opportunity to conclude that there is no dishonour in setting aside the entirely legitimate desire to deliver the perfect deal in the interest of seizing the great deal that is now within our grasp.

2.24pm BST

Stephen Hammond, the MP for Wimbledon (and one of the Tory MPs to have had the whip removed), asks the PM to reconsider the “arbitrary deadline” for EU citizens to apply for settled status in the UK. He says he has one of the highest concentrations of EU citizens living in his constituency.

Johnson responds that the settled status scheme is “proceeding apace” and they have every hope that the 3.4 million EU citizens in the UK will register by the time of the deadline.

2.20pm BST

The prime minister’s brother, Jo Johnson, stands up and says: “I congratulate the prime minister on getting a deal. I never doubted it for a minute.” (He resigned over it, remember.) He asks for reassurance that after the bill has received royal assent, the prime minister will work tirelessly to get the closest possible relationship with the EU over science and research funding.

“I thank my honourable friend, and brother,” says the PM, before going on to reassure him.

2.16pm BST

Johnson continues:

They said that we couldn’t change the withdrawal agreement in the 90 days that we had. They said that we’d never get rid of the backstop. They said we wouldn’t be able to get a new deal. We did get a new deal. We got a great deal … And we will get a great new free trade agreement and a new partnership for our country. That is the project that lies before us.

2.13pm BST

The Green MP Caroline Lucas asks about “the trapdoor” in the deal where if the UK hasn’t negotiated an arrangement with the EU by the end of next year, we will “crash out”. Johnson says there will be no crashing out “because we will negotiate a great new friendship and partnership”.

2.11pm BST

Simon Hoare, the Tory MP for North Dorset, says that squaring the circle of delivering Brexit under the umbrella of the Good Friday agreement and maintaining peace on the island of Ireland was always going to be difficult, but that no communities are now fearful of a return to violence under the proposed deal. He says the prime minister should be congratulated.

Johnson says thanks. “I do intend to bring the whole house into the process of decision making,” he says.

2.01pm BST

The BBC’s political editor reports that the government will pull the withdrawal agreement bill if MPs don’t agree to its proposed timetable later this evening, and will try again for a general election.

Not sure he will spell it out at the despatch box, but it seems if MP s won’t agree govt timetable for Brexit legislation tonight, they will pull it, and if EU then offers a delay, they would push straight for an election instead

No 10 source says, ‘if Parliament votes again for delay by voting down the programme motion, and the EU offers delay until 31 Jan — then we will pull the Bill, there will be no further business for Parliament and we’ll move to an election before Christmas’

Understand there have been pretty fraught conversations among Tory MPs over whether to do this or keep going and accept a slower timetable set by Parliament – govt seems to have chosen instead essentially to go on strike if the Brexit legislation doesn’t progress tonight

Whether this makes any difference to the voting numbers tonight is hard to know.. will the threat of election make MPs more likley to back the 100mph timetable? Enough anger in Commons at the pace it doesn’t seem like it but we’re a long way to go until vote after 7pm

1.57pm BST

Labour’s Don Valley MP, Caroline Flint, who has said she will vote for the WAB, asks for reassurance that the bill will protect the climate emergency. Johnson says: “I can make that commitment.” He says that if the EU brings forward new environmental legislation, parliament will be given the opportunity to bring forward laws that mirror it.

My colleague Helen Pidd visited Flint’s constituency this weekend and found many of her constituents supported her stance on the withdrawal bill.

Related: ‘She has listened to us’: constituents back Labour rebel Caroline Flint

1.52pm BST

Johnson says there will be no checks on goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, just some “light touch measures”. “The most important point is that even these measures automatically dissolve unless the majority of Stormont vote to keep them,” he says.

1.45pm BST

Johnson says the bill will allow the government to take action against “employers and agencies who undercut our laws, including agencies that bring in overseas labour – particularly from the EU”.

He says the bill would realise “our vision of dynamic high-wage, low-tax economy”.

1.40pm BST

Tracy Brabin, the Labour MP in Batley and Spen, raises the issue of workers’ rights. Johnson acknowledges that people need reassurance that the UK will not regress on the issue. He says that if the EU decides to introduce new protections, the UK parliament will automatically consider introducing them too. “In essence, it takes back to this house the powers to decide these matters,” he says. Johnson adds that we shouldn’t lack confidence in “our collective ability” to use these new powers for the public good.

1.37pm BST

Owen Paterson, the Tory MP for North Shropshire, asks for a “categorical assurance” that we will not use our fish stocks as a bargaining chip in future negotiations.

“I can confirm that we will take back 100% control of the spectacular marine wealth of this country,” says Johnson.

1.35pm BST

Lady Hermon, the independent MP for North Down, says the prime minister must not take the people of Northern Ireland for fools and must explain the implications of the deal to the people there.

The prime minister says the vast majority of the Northern Irish economy will leave the EU with the rest of the UK.

1.33pm BST

Dominic Grieve says the PM must recognise that the arrangements for Northern Ireland do not deliver “the recovery of sovereignty” to that country.

Johnson says: “Yes, of course there are transitory arrangement for some aspects of the Northern Ireland economy, but those automatically dissolve and are terminated after four years” unless it is the majority decision of Stormont for them not to. “The principle of consent is at the heart of these arrangements,” he says.

1.30pm BST

Johnson says the deal “is the biggest restoration of sovereignty in our history”.

Asked by Labour’s Catherine McKinnell about the government’s economic impact assessments, he says that getting the deal done would “unleash a great tide of investment” and a “powerful shot in the arm” for the country.

1.29pm BST

Boris Johnson is up to open the debate on the withdrawal agreement bill. (You can watch the live feed at the top of this blog.)

The prime minister says he wishes the house had voted for the deal on Saturday, and that he still has “the utmost respect” for Oliver Letwin, though he disagrees with him.

1.23pm BST

MPs are taking their seats in preparation for the debate on the withdrawal agreement bill. Boris Johnson is set to open the debate, with Jeremy Corbyn opening for Labour.

This is the latest from Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt

On parliamentary numbers: view in government is that there is currently a majority for second reading. On programme motion: currently two or three votes either way

1.16pm BST

It’s Frances Perraudin here, taking over from Ben Quinn for the afternoon. MPs in parliament are still debating the issue of British children trapped in Syria. The Guardian’s defence and security editor, Dan Sabbagh, has been watching the debate. The debate on the withdrawal agreement is scheduled to begin when this is finished.

As MPs debate the situation for British children in Syria, this morning the court in the Shamima Begum case heard that 35 children died of cold or malnutrition in al-Hawl camp. Britain is finally helping British children, but it is depressing it took so long to act.

First report from the Shamima Begum case, as she begins appeal against loss of UK citizenship. Within a few minutes the court went into secret session: https://t.co/xPNtN0npgO

This is what went wrong with British orphans in Syria. Alistair Burt, former foreign off minister says in the Commons, that “sometimes the sheer practicality of difficulties can mask a failure in government”… ie because it was difficult ministers gave up.

1.05pm BST

Soft-Brexit Conservatives could back Boris Johnson’s plan to push through his deal in three days if the government agrees to close a loophole that would allow the UK to crash out on World Trade Organization terms at the end of next year.
Rory Stewart, one of the 21 Tories who had the whip withdrawn, said he and some of his fellow rebels had been negotiating “through the night” to give parliament more control over the next phase of the Brexit negotiations, including being able to vote for an extension to the talks.

Donald Tusk has in effect confirmed the EU will grant a Brexit delay beyond 31 October, with the terms of the extension of UK membership depending on developments in Westminster.
As MPs prepare for their first vote on the revised Brexit deal, the president of the European council told the European parliament that the EU’s final response to Boris Johnson’s letter seeking an extension would be given in the coming days.

12.58pm BST

The pro-EU movement has grown in numbers and developed its own political identity based around opposing Brexit, but could it now be running out of road?

In a week that could determine the Brexit outcome, Jonathan Freedland joins Anushka Asthana to discuss this and more on the the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast.

Related: Is this the end of the road for remainers? – podcast

12.54pm BST

With the numbers looking very tight, this tweet from Newsnight’s Nick Watt suggests the prime minister has an eye on taking the bill off the table if it doesn’t go his way. General election territory then?

So ‘Captain Sensible’ would provide precedent for PM pulling the bill if programme motion defeated. That was the name for Jesse Norman who led Tory opposition against lords reform. @Jesse_Norman now a treasury minister

12.50pm BST

A fierce row broke out at the a meeting of the shadow cabinet earlier today about whether to back a Kyle-Wilson type amendment on a second referendum, according to the Guardian’s political editor, Heather Stewart.

Shadow cabinet also clashed over whether/when Labour should back a general election – with Dan Carden and Laura Pidcock keen to go early, I’m told.

12.45pm BST

In the House of Commons, the foreign office minister, Andrew Murrison, is responding to an urgent question on British children trapped in Syria.

The debate on the withdrawal agreement is scheduled to begin afterwards.

12.38pm BST

Soft-Brexit Conservatives could back Boris Johnson’s plan to push through his deal in three days if he agrees to close a loophole that would allow the UK to crash out on World Trade Organization terms at the end of next year, the Guardian’s political team reports.

It is understood No 10 is preparing to concede on some amendments but is putting pressure on the former Tories not to block the programme motion, arguing this would delay Brexit.

Related: More Tories might back PM’s Brexit timetable if no-deal loophole closed

12.28pm BST

Dozens of Labour MPs will back the “concept” of the Brexit bill at second reading later today, according to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Labour poses to vote against both second reading and the timetable vote but maybe as many as 30 Labour rebels on second reading backing the concept if not the detail of the deal

Here it is – a customs union amendment to the Brexit deal. Backed by Labour front bench member (Dromey) and Labour MPs for a deal (Snell, Smeeth etc) pic.twitter.com/6lgHEL10yz

The DUP is still pondering whether to use their ten crucial votes to oppose the government’s programme motion which will set out the Parliamentary time given over to scrutinising the draft Treaty. “We will make a final decision later,” says a source.

12.24pm BST

The Scottish Government has recommended consent from Holyrood for the new Brexit deal should be withheld.

Under the devolution settlement, a legislative consent motion (LCM), also known as a Sewel motion, must be lodged in the devolved parliaments when the UK Government is looking to pass a law on a matter for which Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland has power.

12.18pm BST

Britain will be “living a free country” in nine days if MPs vote for the bill, according to Mark Francois, the deputy chair of the Tory party’s hardline pro-Brexit grouping, the European Research Group.

The emperor has no clothes and it is now nakedly obvious that half of the House of Commons will never support Britain leaving the European Union, he added on BBC.

12.08pm BST

An organisation representing EU nationals in the UK is calling on MPs to vote down the government’s timetable today to allow extra time for debate and, in its words, “deliver on the referendum promises to EU citizens”.

Maike Bohn, the co-founder of the3million, said there are many outstanding issues on EU citizens’ rights that have not been addressed properly.

The most important one is to prevent innocent people from falling into the hostile environment and even potentially face deportation.

After leaving EU citizens in limbo for over three years, the government now intends to railroad through potentially life-changing legislation with just three hours of committee scrutiny.

12.04pm BST

An update on timing. The debate on the Brexit bill now is not likely to start until about 1.15pm, or perhaps a little bit later.

The Speaker has selected an urgent question on British children trapped in Syria, which is timed for 12.30pm.

11.40am BST

The chancellor has suffered a squeeze on public spending in the run-up to next month’s budget after an increase in borrowing to £9.4bn in September.

A spending upturn across Whitehall departments and the rising costs of the winter fuel allowance for pensioners pushed borrowing beyond last September’s £8.8bn, knocking Sajid Javid’s plans to inject billions of pounds into public services and infrastructure projects in his first budget on 6 November.

11.30am BST

The Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick says he has not read the bill, nor has he tried to … but will be voting for it.

Perhaps that doesn’t matter. The MP for the London constituency of Poplar and Limehouse elaborated on this position to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, telling her that this was a vote in principle.

Do you think it’s acceptable to vote for something in principle when you haven’t read it?

I will have read it by 7pm I hope @FitzMP

You hope? Is this not what people pay you to do?

Boris Johnson will urge MPs to back his Brexit deal https://t.co/v2OW0qtbSQ pic.twitter.com/5OsT0N3oob

11.20am BST

Some more whisperings regarding the potentially decisive position of Boris Johnson’s erstwhile partners, the Democratic Unionists. Gordon Rayner of the Telegraph tweets:

DUP source tells me they have not yet decided which way to vote on tonight’s programme motion (the timetable for getting the Brexit deal through by Oct 31)
Their votes could be decisive.

Labour will vote against second reading and programme motion, I’m told.

11.16am BST

That qualified support from some of the 21 Tory rebels appears to be on fairly fragile ground, however.

Ed Vaizey, the former culture minister, tweets his distaste of some of the way Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, has framed the choices facing MPs today:

Oh dear. Any more ludicrous tweets like this and I may change my mind and vote against the programme motion https://t.co/hTHJTKgPQF

11.12am BST

The 21 MPs expelled in September from the parliamentary Conservative party after they rebelled in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit appear to be split on how they will vote today.

The Guardian’s deputy political editor, Rowena Mason, has been speaking to the former minister Margot James, and tweets:

Margot James tells Guardian she’ll support government on all votes. Richard Benyon on Sky says he will back programme motion and Ed Vaizey tweets that he will too

So the 21 may be split….or have No 10 now made some concessions on parliamentary vote to extend transition?

11.09am BST

The UK housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has insisted three days is sufficient time for MPs to debate the government’s withdrawal agreement bill – and anyone who votes against it in Tuesday’s crunch debate is trying to thwart Brexit.

The House of Commons will hold two key votes late on Tuesday: one on the second reading of the bill – effectively on the principle of whether it should proceed – and another on the government’s fast-track timetable for pushing it through parliament.

10.57am BST

The influential Labour backbencher Hilary Benn has been flagging up his concerns around clause 30 of the bill, which MPs first saw last night, and how the prospect of a no-deal Brexit still looms.

“What happens if the government doesn’t propose an extension?” asked Benn, whose name has been unofficially attached to the act that required Boris Johnson to request a three-month Brexit delay unless he can pass a deal or get MPs to approve a no-deal exit by 19 October.

It’s actually worse than this, since UK must agree to extend transition in by July 1 2020.

But we only paid up Dec 31 2020, so that is going to mean new negotiation on

Now. Consider the timetable… 1/Thread https://t.co/TBVcgR3P6h

10.50am BST

A good way of getting up to speed on what’s been happening this week – and what’s likely to happen – is to take a look at the Guardian’s weekly Brexit briefing, which this week is written by our Brexit correspondent, Lisa O’Carroll.

As a recap for today, she writes that MPs face two votes – one on the second reading of the withdrawal agreement bill (WAB) at 7pm, then another immediately after, the programme motion.

If Johnson gets his way he will be on course for a Brexit on 31 October, albeit with a likely short extension, now being considered by EU leaders.

If he fails, he could abandon the bill altogether and try to engineer a vote on a general election.

10.42am BST

For those who like to read the Brussels runes, there’s a bit more from Donald Tusk, who has been addressing the European parliament, regarding Boris Johnson’s unsigned, half-hearted extension letter

My last words @Europarl_EN: Thank you for your responsible position on #Brexit and extension. After what I have heard in this chamber today, I have no doubt that we should treat the British request for extension in all seriousness.

10.36am BST

The SNP’s parliamentary leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, tweets news of an amendment lodged by the party. Looks like they’ve decided to take a sideways look at it (sorry).

We ⁦@theSNP⁩ have lodged an amendment to the withdrawal bill declining a second reading in the absence of the Scottish Parliament giving consent. Our right to determine whether we remain EU citizens must be in our hands not ⁦@BorisJohnsonpic.twitter.com/PAcRtCY6LI

10.33am BST

But are MPs really that scared of an election? This piece in Tribune by James Meadway, a former adviser to John McDonnell, urges Labour to believe that Boris Johnson can be beaten.

To win, Labour must determine the economic agenda in an election, he writes.

We want Tories chasing around after us and our announcements – just as they had to two years ago. So that means taking the 2017 manifesto as our starting point, and looking to build on it.

Of course, we’re going to end austerity. Of course, we’re going to nationalise water, rail, and the rest. This is just political common sense now: the entire political terrain has moved.

10.27am BST

Boris Johnson should ask for an extension and show that he has listened to parliament’s desire for more time, writes the Conservative commentator Iain Martin on his Reaction website (£).

He adds: “There is deep disquiet among MPs about the government allowing only three days of debate. They may, later today, defeat the government’s ‘programme motion’ – throwing the whole thing into chaos.”

Govt really losing the air war on its programme motion for WAB. Easy to make compelling argument against such a tight timetable. Not enough effort coming from govt on counter argument

10.09am BST

The status of EU nationals in the UK has been highlighted by Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit co-ordinator at the European parliament, where MEPs would be expected to vote on the deal later this week after it is ratified by MPs.

He compared the situation of EU nationals to those Britons caught up in the Windrush scandal.

I mentioned 4 issues that need to be addressed :

1️⃣ No deportation for those who missed the deadline
2️⃣ More assistance for vulnerable citizens
3️⃣ Real independence for the IMA
4️⃣ Settled status for those actually kept in pre-settled status.

10.02am BST

We heard earlier that Rory Stewart and others had been negotiating “through the night” with Downing Street. Steven Swinford from the Times sheds some more light on what’s being sought.

What price will Boris Johnson have to pay to get his programme motion – with it’s express 3 day timetable – through the Commons tonight?

Ex-Tory MPs want him to commit to an *automatic* extension of transition period unless Parliament agrees otherwise

9.53am BST

British MEPs have been giving short addresses at the European parliament, where the Labour grouping’s leader, Richard Corbett, said that there should be no mistake that the UK government was attempting to force through a “hard Brexit”.

“It will be damaging to Britain’s economy and damaging to the European Union’s economy,” he added.

9.41am BST

Jean Claude-Juncker has been speaking in the European parliament – “the beating heart of European democracy” apparently – as his five-year term as president of the European commission comes to an end.

“In truth, it has pained me to spend so much of this mandate dealing with Brexit when I have thought of nothing less than how this union could do better for its citizens … a waste of time and a waste of energy,” he said.

9.31am BST

The fact is that most MPs “don’t read most of the words of most of the legislation most of the time”, the former Conservative MP and commentator Matthew Parris has said on the BBC.

But it is about the principle, he added. Here’s some reaction from those who would have liked more time:

Spent hrs last night reading withdrawal agreement bill. Lots in it on EU citizens rights inc appeal process. Should be area of political agreement, but #Windrush shows crucial to get detail right & have proper scrutiny w expert legal advice. Govt shd be sensible & add extra days

MPs had more time to debate the Wild Animals in Circuses Act (affecting 19 animals) than they will to decide the future of 65 million people ‍‍‍

It’s hard to think of anything which better illustrates this Govt’s contempt for people, Parliament & democracy #Brexit

It’s time for MPs to come together and vote to #GetBrexitDone.

Then we can focus on the priorities that make a difference in the quality of life for everyone across the UK. pic.twitter.com/dBeOTCZDnu

9.16am BST

The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, has told the European parliament that he is consulting EU leaders on how to respond to the UK’s request for an article 50 extension.

The deal reached with the UK is based on the deal agreed with Theresa May’s government, Tusk added, but the changes concern the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, formerly known as the backstop

9.01am BST

The Labour MP Lisa Nandy, one of a number of MPs whose votes could make the difference for Boris Johnson, has written this piece for Labour List on why she’s voting for the withdrawal agreement bill at second reading.

Politics is nothing if not the hard graft of negotiating through difficult choices in the interests of the many.

The rest is protest. It’s time all MPs from every party stopped holding out for our perfect outcome and found the route to compromise.

If we can’t get the numbers, if we can’t win support, if we can’t win our argument in parliament, then we have to take this argument to the country in a general election and put a real alternative to the people. This is the reality of where we are. It’s time we faced it.

8.52am BST

Raphael Hogarth, an associate at the Institute for Government, has been tweeting analysis of the bill, which he describes as having “amusingly weak provisions on workers’ rights”

“Not so much a non-regression clause as a ‘non-regression, unless the minister wants regression’ clause,” he reckons.

The hardest thing to do quickly is to work out whether the government is trying to take excessively extensive and wide powers to make law by ministerial fiat without proper scrutiny, or the powers are carefully circumscribed and go no further than necessary.

That’s a big job. https://t.co/AnFElJW5ZD

8.48am BST

Jenrick was asked in a BBC interview about a lack of guarantees on workers’ rights in the bill, and replied that it would be for MPs to decide in the future.

“We are saying that parliament will decide, and that’s the point of taking back control, isn’t it?” he added. “Trusting parliament to make important decisions on workers’ rights or the environment.”

Jenrick, as I have noted before, is good at political interviews. Whether he believes in much is yet to be discerned but he is highly able. https://t.co/pfkoq58OIg

Robert Jenrick confirms government’s approach to parliamentary scrutiny of the 240-odd pages of the Withdrawal Bill is simply “no need to check under the bonnet, sir. Car’s fine. Just sign here and it’s yours”.#r4today

8.43am BST

The government minister, Robert Jenrick, has said that MPs who want to “pore over the details” of the Brexit bill will have time to do so but the “big seismic questions about our future relationship” will be for the future.

The comments from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on Sky News have struck some as odd, given the urgency which Downing Street has sought to inject into proceedings.

Robert Jenrick confirms that Parliament will get to vote on the destination of Britain’s relationship with the EU much further down the line – the argument the government needs to win over Labour MPs today.

It’s rather at odds with the idea that this week “gets Brexit done”

8.36am BST

The Scottish first minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has been having a go at sections of what the withdrawal act says on workers’ rights, and tweets this warning at Labour MPs thinking of voting for it:

This is the so-called protection for workers’ rights – government must make a statement on whether or not a future Bill erodes workers’ rights. But even if it does, they can still proceed. No wonder @The_TUC is advising Labour MPs not to fall for it. https://t.co/0iBTB1GkYr

8.32am BST

The Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief, Dan Boffey, has been listening to EU officials speaking at a European parliament gathering in Strasbourg, where Donald Tusk has referred to Boris Johnson’s Brexit extension request.

Donald Tusk says that the EU’s response to Boris Johnson’s extension request will depend on what the Commons “decides or doesn’t decide” today. But he adds: “As I said to PM Johnson on Saturday, a no deal Brexit will never be our decision”.

8.28am BST

On the schedule in Brussels, the European council president, Donald Tusk, and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, are to speak today in a debate in the European parliament in Strasbourg on the outcome of the last summit of European leaders.

The EU’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, will also be in attendance but, perhaps most significantly, we’re likely to hear the first public comments from Tusk on Boris Johnson’s extension request.

8.21am BST

Away from Westminster, among those poring over the details of the Brexit deal were loyalists in east Belfast who gathered to discuss what meeting organisers described as the “betrayal act”.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that one of the speakers was the loyalist activist Jamie Bryson, who said it was opportunity for unionists and loyalists to voice their anger.

There needs to be some method of channelling and acknowledging loyalist discontent. Establishment unionism has acted exploitatively and showed poor leadership. This isn’t just about Europe- it has roots in how peace was/wasn’t produced. https://t.co/RYXN6nixyG

8.09am BST

The withdrawal agreement bill was published last night at 8pm, giving MPs preparing to vote only 12 hours to digest details of one of the biggest constitutional changes to the UK’s status in decades.

But hey … it’s just 115 pages long, with an extra 126 pages of explanatory notes.

Related: What does Boris Johnson’s withdrawal bill actually say?

8.00am BST

Another early morning intervention has come from Rory Stewart – the former Tory MP and one-time leadership candidate – who said he and others thrown out recently by Boris Johnson had been negotiating “through the night” to give parliament more control over the next phase of the Brexit negotiations.

He said that “central role” in the trade negotiations would be more important than guaranteeing that the UK remains in a customs union with the EU, which Labour is looking to secure.

7.53am BST

Voters should have another say in the form of a public vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union, Labour’s shadow education secretary has said.

In an early morning salvo giving a taste of the choppy waters that await the government’s attempts to get the legislation through today, Angela Rayner, said also that parliament must be given an opportunity to properly scrutinise the government’s Brexit bill.

7.52am BST

Good morning and welcome to Politics Live for day two of a potentially game changing week at Westminster for Brexit.

I’m Ben Quinn and will be taking you through all this morning’s developments before handing over to my colleague Frances Perraudin this afternoon.

Related: Boris Johnson in final push to ram through Brexit deal

Continue reading…

Brexit deal won’t happen tonight, government sources confirm – as it happened

No 10 refuses to confirm Boris Johnson’s travel plans but PM could make early Brussels dash to push talks along

11.28pm BST

We’re going to wrap up this liveblog now and summarise an eventful day in Brexit history.

Senior government figures have said there will be “no deal” on Wednesday night.

10.45pm BST

Jeremy Corbyn has been dealt a blow as veteran MP Dame Louise Ellman quit Labour accusing him of being a danger to Britain.

Dame Louise, 73, who is Jewish, said she had been “deeply troubled” by the “growth of anti-Semitism” in Labour in recent years.

I have made the truly agonising decision to leave the Labour Party after 55 years. I can no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM. I will continue to serve the people of Liverpool Riverside as I have had the honour to do since 1997. pic.twitter.com/3BTzUacZvo

10.41pm BST

With Tory Eurosceptics now on the Prime Minister’s side, Mr Johnson is in a race against time to gain support from the DUP and get his deal through to the EU, as explained by Daniel Boffey.

Related: Johnson seeks DUP backing in race against time over Brexit deal

9.33pm BST

Labour MP Stella Creasy has raised suspicions that the DUP are striking a Brexit bargain with the government that will include an attempt to stop expected abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

So that’s deal government has done to get @DUPleader support this week- they are going to wash their hands of responsibility to regulate abortion in Northern Ireland. It’s not in law they can whatever they say. Shameful using women as bargaining chips! #brexithaos #trustwomen

Now in parliament to try to find out why all of a sudden government trying to get Northern Ireland assembly up and running and using the possibility of stopping equal abortion access in Northern Ireland as bargaining chip…. #brexithaos #trustwomen

9.07pm BST

Boris Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, was seen leaving No 10 shortly before 9pm.

8.54pm BST

In need of a little light relief? Read John Crace’s sketch on the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay: “Calming to the point of comatose, each word more meaningless than the one before.

“By the end of a sentence, you are far worse informed than if he had said nothing.”

Related: Stephen Barclay, a pointless secretary for a pointless Brexit | John Crace

8.35pm BST

The Leader of the Independent Group for Change and former Conservative Anna Soubry has described the amount of time MPs would have to scrutinise Boris Johnson’s prospective deal on Saturday as “plain wrong”.

It is increasingly clear Johnson’s “new” deal is worse than May’s. Parliament will get 5 hours debate on Saturday without any independent assessments, analysis or select committee scrutiny of the most important set of decisions we will make in generations. That’s plain wrong.

8.32pm BST

While the ERG appear to be rallying behind Johnson and his deal, the PM has to convince the 21 MPs he expelled from the party.

Related: PM yet to win Brexit support of ex-Tories including Hammond

8.18pm BST

If Boris Johnson manages to bring back a deal from Brussels, shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said she expects Labour would support any amendment put forward in the Commons to attach a confirmatory referendum to that deal.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Neil Show, she added: “The expectation would be that should a deal be tabled on Saturday, and we don’t know that is going to happen, I am as sure as you can be that there will be an amendment tabled that would want to see a referendum attached to the deal.”

8.06pm BST

Even if Boris Johnson managed to pull off a Brexit deal, he would still have other problems on his plate as this story on the latest developments on the Arcuri saga by Matthew Weaver shows.

Related: MPs call for police investigation into Jennifer Arcuri’s firm

7.53pm BST

Here’s our take on how ERG chair Steve Baker and his allies are warming to a deal after Boris Johnson promised them the UK would leave the customs union and secure a quick free trade deal with the EU.

Related: Tory Eurosceptics rally round Boris Johnson as deal nears

7.40pm BST

Asked whether there could be a Brexit extension, MP Steve Baker said Boris Johnson confirmed the UK will leave the EU on 31 October.

Baker said: “My sense is we really must see the text, time is becoming very short for everybody.”

7.32pm BST

Chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) Steve Baker said “great progress” has been made in talks with No 10.

Speaking to Sky News after a meeting in Downing Street, Baker said: “We have made great progress in our discussions with No 10,” adding: “Really at this point, it just remains to wish the prime minister every possible success as he goes to negotiate for our country.”

7.28pm BST

Two government sources said there would not be a deal on Wednesday night, although talks will continue.

No 10 refused to confirm Boris Johnson’s travel plans for the summit on Thursday, but he could go earlier than usual if it were felt his presence could help move stalled talks along.

7.21pm BST

The anti-Brexit campaigner Jo Maugham QC has announced plans to launch a legal action in an attempt to ban the government from putting the withdrawal agreement before parliament.

I intend to lodge an immediate petition for an injunction in the Court of Session preventing the Government from placing the Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament for approval. We expect that petition to be lodged tomorrow and to be heard on Friday.

7.09pm BST

Quoting a source from No 10, the Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, has said there will be no deal tonight as government talks are still taking place.

Govt source says no Brexit deal tonight, because of unresolved issues with both the DUP and EU: “Everyone will be working into the night but there won’t be a deal this evening”.

6.47pm BST

Michel Barnier has arrived at a meeting of EU ambassadors in the Europa building in Brussels to brief them on the latest developments in London, reports the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey in Brussels.

“He said nothing to reporters. The deal is done. And all depends on London giving the green light. All that stands in the way of leaders signing off on Thursday are the DUP’s objections,” his report said.

Just as Barnier arrives to see ambassadors, government source has just told me there will not be a deal tonight

6.41pm BST

Talk of hundreds of millions, if not billions, going the way of Northern Ireland as part of a sweetener for the DUP has piqued the interest of many, though the SNP’s Joanna Cherry vents the anger of Scottish nationalists here.

The #DUP are kept informed of #Brexit negotiations but @scotgov are kept totally in the dark. Scotland will be the only country in UK to be taken out of the EU against our will & with no say over our future relationship with Europe hence need for #indyref2 pic.twitter.com/ZOkuKaEIeO

6.36pm BST

In Toulouse, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said this evening that she believed it was the “final sprint” for negotiations and she was “increasingly of the belief” that an agreement would be reached with the UK.

Merkel said she wanted every success for the agreement and paid tribute to Michel Barnier’s negotiations. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said: “I share everything the chancellor has said.

6.34pm BST

While you’re waiting for the (blue and yellow? Red, white and blue?) smoke, you might want to have a listen to the Guardian Politics Weekly podcast.

Heather Stewart is joined by Katy Hayward, James McGrory and Torsten Bell to discuss whether or not Boris Johnson has prevented the UK from crashing out of the EU.

Related: Brexit deal back from the brink – Politics Weekly podcast

6.29pm BST

In the absence of any clear briefings or announcements, the battle for the narrative is continuing on Twitter, with Jeffrey Donaldson stepping up as the latest DUP figure to push back on suggestions his party is split.

This story is just plain nonsense. I have been at every meeting of our Parliamentary team on Brexit and there is no split within the DUP on this. Wishful thinking on the part of some perhaps but without foundation. https://t.co/pTT5v4Skvt

6.24pm BST

The latest from the man who moves markets, RTÉ’s Europe editor, Tony Connelly, has it that all outstanding issues in the Brexit negotiations have been resolved, with the exception of how VAT will be treated in Northern Ireland.

In a piece for the RTÉ news website, he said two senior EU sources have said the main stumbling block to an agreement has been removed, with the DUP accepting the latest proposals on consent.

All outstanding issues in the Brexit negotiations have been resolved with the exception of how VAT will be treated in Northern Ireland, RTÉ News understands | Read more: https://t.co/GWuv4fIxf0 pic.twitter.com/cSlzxHNKJQ

6.13pm BST

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has been with with Macron today has also indicated that she is hopeful for a deal.

Both leaders were keen to demonstrate the solidity of the French-German relationship at a meeting Toulouse, one day before a key EU summit that may approve what ever deal emerges (if it does) tonight.

Merkel on chances of a Brexit deal: We believe it would be possible between the EU and the UK. From what I’ve been hearing in the past few days, I think it’s more and more possible…. We’re in the sprint final.

6.02pm BST

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has been speaking and says he “wants to believe” an agreement on Brexit is being finalised by negotiators in Brussels.

Speaking in Toulouse, he said “I want to believe that a deal is being finalised and that we can approve it tomorrow [Thursday],” when EU leaders are meeting Boris Johnson.

6.00pm BST

There are few things more pleasurable in politics than being able to say ‘I told you so’ and when Sir Ivan Rogers, the former UK ambassador to the EU who has become one of the most compelling critics of the Brexit process, gave evidence to the Commons European scrutiny this afternoon, he got the opportunity.

Rogers said, in the autumn of 2016, soon after the vote to leave the EU, ministers told him that a free-trade agreement would be in place the day after Brexit. He said:

I was preoccupied by ministers telling me ‘don’t worry Ivan, you don’t understand,’ and they did say to me repeatedly, ‘you don’t understand, we’re going to have a trade deal in place with the European Union on the day after exit’. And I said ‘with the greatest of respects, we’re not.’ And I think I’m proven right.

After you leave, you are in this transition … which may last a year or it may last two or three years.

You are still hugely impacted by everything going on in those rooms. Why would you leave those rooms before you have to?

5.45pm BST

From the Times’ Steven Swinford

More from Cabinet:

Geoffrey Cox apparently pulled out his previous reference to Theresa May’s backstop being akin to Dante’s Seven Circles of Hell

In an extended metaphor the AG assured colleagues that what is on the table now is relatively heavenly and light

5.44pm BST

The DUP are going back into Downing Street for further talks tonight, we’ve been told.

5.42pm BST

From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

Hearing the issues btw UK, EU and Ireland are now pretty much sorted, but still not clear on whether DUP are ready to sign up or not.. (Brexit watchers, remind you of anything?)

5.35pm BST

Sammy Wilson, the DUP Brexit spokesman, argued this morning that abandoning the plan that would effectively give the DUP a veto over new arrangements would breach the Good Friday agreement and its commitment to the principle of “cross-community consent”. (See 12.39pm.)

In the Irish parliament today Leo Varadkar, the Irish taoiseach (PM), described this aspect of the Good Friday agreement as a “flaw”. He was not making a point about Brexit per se, but responding to a question from the Green party leader, Eamon Ryan, who complained that the system for cross-party consent involves members of the legislative assembly having to register themselves as unionist, nationalist or other.

One of the real flaws in double majorities in the system of cross community consent is not just that it allows one community or one party within that community to have a veto, it totally discounts and reduces to nothing the votes of those who designated as others.

That is something that has developed as a flaw and one that I am very aware of.

5.28pm BST

From Reuters’ Andy Bruce

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, CUSTOMS ARRANGEMENTS, N. IRISH CONSENT ALL AGREED IN EU-UK TALKS – EU SOURCES

VAT PROVISIONS NOT DONE YET, OVERALL AGREEMENT OF UK GOVERNMENT STILL NEEDED

5.22pm BST

This is what the prime minister’s spokesman told journalist about today’s cabinet.

The prime minister gave an update to cabinet on the progress in the ongoing Brexit talks. He said there was a chance of securing a good deal but we are not there yet and there remain outstanding issues. Following a positive discussion, cabinet gave the PM its full support in the government’s continuing efforts to secure a deal ahead of European council.

5.18pm BST

Mark Francois, the Tory Brexiter and vice chair of the European Research Group (which represents Tories pushing for a harder Brexiter), told reporters after the 1922 Committee meeting that the ERG would take the views of the DUP “strongly into account” when deciding whether or not to back Boris Johnson’s deal. He said:

What we have said consistently the ERG and DUP have always been strong allies. We’ve been friends throughout this process. We talk to each other all the time. It is not axiomatic we would follow whatever the DUP do but particularly on anything that relates to Northern Ireland we would take their views very strongly into account.

5.10pm BST

Boris Johnson is fond of Mount Everest similes. He also called his close friend Jennifer Arcuri (who has refused to comment on speculation they had an affair when he was London mayor) “the Mount Everest every man wants to climb”, according to her account.

5.04pm BST

Boris Johnson told Tory MPs that the government was “on the Hillary Step” in relation to the Brexit talks, referring to what was famous as the most perilous part of the route up Everest.

But, according to Wikipedia, the Hillary Step was destroyed in an earthquake four years ago.

4.56pm BST

And here are some tweets about Boris Johnson told the 1922 Committee from journalists in the corridor outside.

Boris Johnson told the 1922 on Brexit deal that he was on the Hillary step of Everest but the summit was still “shrouded in mist”…. but hopeful he will get there

Boris Johnson told the ‘22 ‘We’re on the Hillary Step going strong for the summit but it is shrouded in cloud’

There was also a Shawsank redemption joke about a tunnel that exceeds the limits of my cinematic knowledge

Mark Francois of the ERG says Boris Johnson gave a “vintage” performance at the 1922 committee. PM told MPs “we’re not quite at the summit, it’s shrouded in mist, we’re at the Hilary step.”

Mark Francois says the PM was “crystal clear” in the 1922 meeting that the UK will leave the EU on Halloween if attempts to strike a deal are unsuccessful

ERG leader Steve Baker after hearing Boris Johnson’s address to 1922 says the deal in the works “could well be tolerable”.

He adds there will be “further discussions with Number 10 shortly” with Brexieers including Mark Francois and Iain Duncan Smith.

Baker adds he won’t decide how to vote until a final deal is secured.

“I do insist on reading the text of the deal I’m voting on.”

Theresa May tight lipped as she leaves 22

4.45pm BST

Boris Johnson has been speaking to the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee. But he was not there for long. Only five minutes, or eight minutes, or 10 minutes – the lobby can’t agree.

PM leaves 1922 cttee after just 5mins

Boris leaves 1922 committee after 8/9 minutes inside. Lots of banging and “hear hear” from inside

Very rapid 22 with Boris Johnson, his appearance done in ten mins

4.38pm BST

Downing Street has announced that it has tabled a motion for the House of Commons and the House of Lords to sit on Saturday, from 9.30am until 2pm.

MPs are due to vote on the motion tomorrow. But if the government decided at the last minute not to go ahead with the Saturday sitting (because the deal did not materialise), it could decide not to move the motion tomorrow (which would mean it did not get put to a vote).

4.33pm BST

From ITV’s Joe Pike

NEW: The Government have tabled a motion calling for the House of Commons and House of Lords to sit this Saturday.

It is possible they won’t move the motion tomorrow.#Brexit

4.11pm BST

When Theresa May was prime minister she told MPs that she was opposed to the EU’s original plan for a Northern Ireland-only backstop because no British prime minister could accept a customs border of that kind down the Irish Sea. The quote will come back to haunt her if Boris Johnson does negotiate a deal that would in practice keep Northern Ireland in the customs union. May told MPs in February 2018:

The draft legal text the commission have published would, if implemented, undermine the UK common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea, and no UK prime minster could ever agree to it.

If we wanted to do free trade deals, if we wanted to cut tariffs … if we wanted to vary our regulation then we would have to leave Northern Ireland behind as an economic semi-colony of the EU and we would be damaging the fabric of the union with regulatory checks and even customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – on top of those extra regulatory checks down the Irish Sea that are already envisaged in the withdrawal agreement.

Now I have to tell you, no British Conservative government could or should sign up to any such arrangement.

REVEALED: In 2018 Boris Johnson admits that ‘no Conservative government’ could sign up to a border in the Irish Sea.

But that’s exactly what his hard Brexit proposal does.

No one can trust Boris Johnson to solve the #Brexit crisis. Only the people can: https://t.co/Q3yda24SQF pic.twitter.com/RhffGzTWj8

3.55pm BST

Here is the full version of what Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, said in remarks broadcast on TV about the Brexit talks.

Theoretically in seven to eight hours everything should be clear.

It is still undergoing changes and the basic foundations of this agreement are ready and theoretically we could accept a deal tomorrow …

3.50pm BST

And here is the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on cabinet.

Cabinet not briefed on full contents of a deal cos it isn’t done yet – mood was ‘steady as she goes’, one of those present said

They did however discuss the plan to hold a Saturday sitting for MPs, and putting down a resolution to make that happen tomorrow

3.48pm BST

From RTE’s Tony Connelly

New: Barnier briefing of EU27 ambassadors has been postponed again from 17hr to 19hr

3.47pm BST

This afternoon’s cabinet is over. Sky’s Beth Rigby has some lines from ministers as they were coming out.

Coming out of cabinet Alun Cairns said there was still a long way to go. Robert Jenrick also said there was some way to go. Villiers said work to do but added that she thought agreement could be reached by Summit. Going to the wire isn’t it

Cabinet…. David Frost still in the tunnel so no full briefing on deal. XO cttee apparently know but not the rest.
– AG Cox was upbeat
– Meanwhile PM apparently said he thought DUP would be fine & NI will be in UK CU. Raab said should sell this as a win win for GB & NI 1/

Cabinet cont….
– More discussion on the Pol declaration. Issues around the ‘level playing field’ commitments. PM well aware of those concerns
– So no Cabinet sign off as deal still in the making (or not). They’ll have to have another meet/call b4 summit IF deal across line

3.36pm BST

Ipsos MORI has also published some polling on Brexit today. Its headline finding is that the people think a no-deal Brexit is more likely than an election, a deal, a second referendum or the UK staying in the EU.

But what is likely to attract most interest at Westminster is what the polling says about party leaders and Brexit. When voters are asked if they are satisfied with how Boris Johnson is handling Brexit, he gets a net satisfaction rating of -9 (satisfied minus dissatisfied). That is not great, but it is better than his ratings in August and September.

2.50pm BST

Here is the full quote from Donald Tusk, president of the European council.

Theoretically in seven to eight hours everything should be clear.

2.40pm BST

From Sky News

European Council President Donald Tusk says it should be known in seven to eight hours when Brexit could happen

2.38pm BST

Here is the full text of Leo Varadkar’s statement to Irish MPs about the EU summit starting tomorrow.

The Irish taoiseach (PM) said he still thought a Brexit deal was possible, but he could not say when. Here is the key passage.

I do not think it would be helpful today to say too much about the precise state of play of the discussions or the exact timeframe in which an agreement may be possible.

I said last week that I thought that there was a pathway to a possible agreement. That is still my view. However, the question is whether the negotiators will be able to bridge the remaining gaps in advance of tomorrow’s council. What’s important now is that all focus is kept on achieving a deal that delivers for everyone.

2.31pm BST

This is from Sky’s Stephen Murphy.

New: Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar tells the Dail (Irish parliament) he still sees pathway to #brexit deal but that there are issues still to be resolved: consent [of the people of NI] and customs

2.09pm BST

From Reuters’ Peter Thal Larsen

Currency markets seem to think @tconnellyRTE is twice as credible as @DUPleader. Pound jumped 0.8% following Connelly’s tweet, but only dropped 0.4% after Foster’s denial.https://t.co/rNAoR0N3bThttps://t.co/SNVSLZGMwc pic.twitter.com/HRloMmg7x1

2.07pm BST

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, has dismissed the report from RTÉ’s Tony Connelly (see 1.28pm) saying her party has agreed to what is being proposed on consent.

‘EU sources’ are talking nonsense. Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support. https://t.co/CpugVBfyBZ

2.03pm BST

On the World at One Andrew Bridgen, one of the 28 Tory “Spartans” who voted against Theresa May’s deal three times, said he thought the pro-remain opposition would try to seize control of the Commons timetable for Saturday to allow MPs to vote for a referendum on any Brexit deal secured by Boris Johnson. He said:

What they want is to humiliate the prime minister by preventing him from even bringing forward a vote on his deal, and forcing him to send the letter in line with the Benn act … They may well bring forward a confirmatory referendum which, in my view, would be disastrous.

There are many MPs who are in favour of a confirmatory referendum, as am I. If the government brings a deal before the house on Saturday, then it would not surprise me at all if an effort were made to say, OK, but subject to a confirmatory referendum. That is not a surprise to anyone given the growing support that there is for that idea.

1.48pm BST

Earlier I quoted some ComRes polling claiming that more than half of voters want the UK to leave the EU. Other pollsters have criticised the way ComRes presented those findings, arguing that it was misleading because people were asked to choose between three options, not two. I have posted an updated at 9.56am explaining this. You may need to refresh the page to get it to appear.

1.39pm BST

It wouldn’t be Brexit if we didn’t have a contrary view. This is from the Atlantic’s Tom McTague.

Understand this is premature and news to Downing Street: no DUP agreement on consent yet, per senior UK official (though it might happen, of course). Now at *very* delicate stage https://t.co/c4g9CtRfV4

1.28pm BST

From RTÉ’s Tony Connelly

BREAKING: two senior EU sources say the main stumbling block to a deal has been removed with the DUP accepting the latest proposals on consent… Optimism a deal can now be done…

1.18pm BST

A fresh legal challenge to prevent the prime minister crashing out of the EU without a deal is to be heard in the London courts on Friday, the civil rights organisation Liberty has revealed.

The judicial review action, similar to the case already heard in Edinburgh, is an attempt to ensure that Boris Johnson respects the Benn act and seeks an extension to UK membership in the absence of an agreement with Brussels.

1.16pm BST

In her speech the former prime minister Theresa May said she was “a little concerned” by reports that the government will have different immigration rules for different regions of the country after Brexit. She said the idea that visas could be issued on condition that people went to work in a particular part of the country sounded like a system for “regional visas”. She went on:

I would urge [Priti Patel, the home secretary] to look very carefully at how that can operate logistically because it has some very real challenges. And, indeed, I hear from the SNP benches some muttering that it is an issue that has been rejected in the past by the independent migration advisory committee.

12.59pm BST

In the opening of her speech Theresa May said government should not just be about positive headlines and great oratory, PoliticsHome’s Matt Honeycombe-Foster reports.

THERESA MAY KLAXON. She’s speaking in the Queen’s Speech debate.

Says government is not “about headlines”.

“You can have the best headlines and the greatest oratory and the most arresting phrases but they’re of no use if they don’t actually, practically deliver for people.” pic.twitter.com/20O8qKddsL

12.54pm BST

From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

No sense of imminent breakthrough after DUP meeting – still gaps and concerns, and not just on what happens around the border.. feels like long hard day for all concerned

Foster staying in London tho, so talks in all directions are still going on…far from resolution, but far from over too

12.51pm BST

The Times’s Brussels correspondent Bruno Waterfield has posted a useful Twitter thread on the state of play in the Brexit talks. It starts here.

Hiccups in the Brexit talks which could go to the wire as late 5.30pm or so. Best case scenario is political agreement at #EUCO which means Brexit almost certainly will not happen on Oct 31

12.49pm BST

This, from the Times’ Henry Zeffman, backs up the impression given by what Sammy Wilson was saying in the Commons Brexit committee hearing. (See 12.39am.)

Consent, not customs, is the sticking point between Johnson and the DUP now, according to a government source

12.46pm BST

This is not May’s first speech from the backbenches. She spoke recently in the second reading debate on the domestic abuse bill, which was her first Commons speech as a backbencher since her resignation in July.

12.45pm BST

In the Commons Theresa May, the former prime minister, has just started speaking in the Queen’s speech debate.

At the moment she is having a go at Brexit – rehearsing the ancient arguments about whether the last Labour government spent too much ahead of the financial crash.

12.43pm BST

From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

EU ambassadors meeting has been moved back until 5pm, 4 UK time

12.39pm BST

Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, used his questions to Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, in the Brexit committee hearing to spell out in some details the DUP’s objections to the plan for a replacement to the backstop being negotiated by the UK and the EU.

He did not say his party would oppose the plan (the full details of which have yet to be revealed) in all circumstances. But he sounded sceptical, particularly on the latest thinking on “consent”. (Some commentary has implied that the most serious problems relate to customs, but Wilson’s questioning implied consent could turn out to be more of a stumbling block.)

Not just against the spirit of the [Good Friday] agreement, but it is explicitly against the terms of the agreement.

What we are told time and time again in this committee [is that the Good Friday agreement] is an internationally binding agreement which, very clearly – in fact, in very explicit and detailed terms – sets out how cross-community support has to be measured in the the assembly. So all I want to hear from you today are that the terms of the Belfast agreement … will be the terms on which consent for opting into arrangements which diminish the powers of the Northern Ireland assembly, which will treat Northern Ireland differently, to a certain extent, from the rest of the United Kingdom, that that consent by sought on the basis of the agreement.

I hope that first of all the government is not contemplating that.

One of the suggestions that has been made is that, if there are additional costs, Northern Ireland could be compensated for those additional costs. If we sign up to abiding by some EU regulations, then state aid rules would apply and support could not be given to businesses which were caught with those additional costs.

12.04pm BST

The Stephen Barclay hearing is now over.

The most significant points were made not by Barclay himself, who studiously avoided saying anything very revealing about the detail of the ongoing Brexit talks, but by Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman.

So while Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds are in No 10, Sammy Wilson is raising significant concerns:

* Consent *must* be based on cross-community double majority

* Deal will ‘diminish’ NI Assembly

* Customs checks will lead to ‘impediments’ to trade between GB & NI

11.48am BST

Q: By Saturday will we have clarity on what infrastructure might be in place under these plans?

Barclay says the first thing to do is to get a deal. After that, there will be an urgent need to bring the matter back to the Commons, and to then inform MPs.

11.45am BST

In the Brexit committee Sammy Wilson, the DUP Brexit spokesman, is asking about customs arrangements.

Q: What assessment has the government made of the impact of imposing EU tariffs on goods coming to Northern Ireland from Great Britain?

11.40am BST

Jeremy Corbyn is playing down suggestions that he could remove the whip from any Labour MP who votes for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, the BBC’s Norman Smith reports.

Jeremy Corbyn plays down claims he might remove whip from Labour MPs who back a Boris Johnson Brexit deal

“I believe in persuasion rather than threats,” says @jeremycorbyn on claims he cd remove whip from Labour MPs who support Brexit deal.

11.34am BST

From my colleague Rowena Mason

Cabinet now meeting earlier at 2.30pm. Noises still quite negative from the UK side re getting the DUP on board.

PM’s official spokesman says “issues remain to be resolved” although he insists some progress was made overnight.

11.33am BST

Back in the Commons Stephen Barclay claims that, if the UK leaves the EU this autumn, the negotiation of a future trade deal with the EU could conclude by the end of next year, when the transition is due to end.

He says the political declaration will provide a framework for the future deal. And he says the trade negotiators will be able to meet more easily than in, for example, the EU-US trade talks, when negotiators had to fly over from America.

11.31am BST

From my colleague Daniel Boffey in Brussels

EU capitals say there is not enough time now for formal agreement on the deal – but they can give political agreement to the deal on Thursday. If DUP can be won round.

11.28am BST

This is from PoliticalPics, a Twitter account run by the photographer Steve Back, who regularly covers Downing Street.

DUP just gone in back door of No10 sneaked in is more appropriate!

11.23am BST

Back in the Commons committee Barclay says he cannot say what papers would be available to MPs before a possible Commons vote on Saturday. The Tory Richard Graham wanted to know if MPs would be able to read the text of the withdrawal agreement and political declaration.

11.21am BST

From the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn

Cabinet meeting brought forward to 2.30pm now rather than late afternoon. Another sign it will no longer be asked to sign off any deal.

11.20am BST

Q: What engagement has the UK government had with the Scottish and Welsh governments this week about progress in the talks? Cherry says her suspicion is that there has been none.

Barclay says he is not aware of the details, because he has been travelling, but he says he will write to the committee.

11.17am BST

Back in the Brexit committee the SNP MP Joanna Cherry, one of the people who took the government to court in Scotland seeking an assurance that Boris Johnson would obey the Benn act, is asking the questions now.

Cherry asks Stephen Barclay if he agrees with the passage in the judgment from Lord Pentland, who said there was no need for the court to issue an order instructing the government to comply with the Benn act because the government had given assurances it would. Pentland said:

I approach matters on the basis that it would be destructive of one of the core principles of constitutional propriety and of the mutual trust that is the bedrock of the relationship between the court and the crown for the prime minister or the government to renege on what they have assured the court that the prime minister intends to do.

11.00am BST

These are from RTE’s Tony Connelly.

BREAKING: Michel Barnier has told EU Commissioners he is optimistic of getting a deal done today, @rtenews understands

2/ However, there still outstanding issues, so this could go right to the wire.

3/ It’s understood VAT has emerged as a last minute problem: if NI remains inside the EU’s VAT system, essential for North-South trade, then a new mechanism will have to be created for East-West trade, as the UK will be in its own VAT system

4/ However, it’s understood officials are confident that a solution can be found.

5/ It’s understood consent is also proving difficult, with a senior EU source saying the DUP are pushing to restore a tighter Stormont lock

6/ The third big hurdle is on the “level playing field” provisions. The EU is concerned at Boris Johnson’s bid to dilute Theresa May’s commitments to not stray far from the EU’s environmental, state aid, social and labour standards

7/ The meeting of EU ambassadors, whom Barnier will brief, is still scheduled for 14hr CET, suggesting that the timings are still on course

10.57am BST

ITV’s Robert Peston say the DUP are going back to Downing Street for another meeting.

DUP going back into Downing St, to try to find a way through roadblock. https://t.co/TDNS9amGqy

10.48am BST

Leo Varadkar, the Irish taoiseach (prime minister), has been speaking this morning, Sky’s Beth Rigby reports. He said he had spoken to Boris Johnson and to the European commission this morning. He said that he was still confident but that there were “many issues” to be resolved and that another EU summit later this month might be needed.

NEW: Varadkar. Spoken to PM this am. Hopes issues can be resolved today, if not still more time as he floats a possible second summit before Oct 31 pic.twitter.com/C7HMkBRnwO

10.42am BST

The Tory Brexiter Craig Mackinlay goes next. He says he welcomes what the government is saying about the political declaration (covering the future relationship). There was too much “vassalage” in Theresa May’s version, he says.

Barclay says there is a “shared desire” with the EU to move on to that stage of the talks.

10.38am BST

The former Tory cabinet minister Stephen Crabb goes next.

Q: What makes this deal better than Theresa May’s deal?

10.33am BST

Stephen Timms, the Labour MP, is asking the questions now.

Q: HM Revenue and Customs says a no-deal Brexit would cost business £15bn. Your party used to be opposed to burdens on business.

10.29am BST

From Bloomberg’s Dara Doyle

interesting from Sammy Wilson to our @Jess_Shankleman : “If the union is weakened no amount of money will get us to accept the deal.”

10.27am BST

From Bloomberg’s Nikos Chrysoloras

Breaking: EU sees Brexit negotiations at impasse, as remaining issues can’t be resolved at technical level. A new mandate from London is needed. UK government is trying to get DUP on board. More on @TheTerminal

10.26am BST

These are from Sky’s Beth Rigby

So..legal text submitted but mood in No 10 a little downcast this morning. Govt source tells me it’s going to be tough to get something over line. PM held 3 hours of talks with DUP over past 36, but if he can’t get Foster over line, the ERG falls away & then no chance of majority

Source says some of optimism recent days now feels bit over-egged. PM’s win is to have NI to leave CU with rest of GB. BUT EU needs customs checks somewhere & if not N-S has to be at ports. DUP might decide they cannot go further than the concession on E-W regulatory checks 2/

10.24am BST

From my colleague Daniel Boffey

The deal is there but the DUP may yet pull the rug from under it. This is so 4th December 2017: the day that Arlene trashed Theresa May’s first go at this. https://t.co/6qLx71FoeP

10.22am BST

The Tory Brexiter Andrea Jenkyns is asking questions now. She says she was critical of Theresa May’s handling of Brexit (she is one of the 28 “Spartans”, who voted against May’s deal three times) but she says she supports what Boris Johnson is doing.

Q: Do you think the Benn act has weakened the government’s negotiating stance?

10.21am BST

Benn is now asking questions about the plan for an alternative to the backstop published by Boris Johnson earlier this month. The government’s explanation of those plans is here (pdf).

Q: The plan says, if Northern Ireland withdraws consent, the customs rules default to existing rules. What are they?

10.14am BST

Benn asks Barclay how long it would take the government to pass the withdrawal agreement legislation if there is a deal.

Barclay tells him that his own bill (the Benn Act – the law requiring the PM to request an extension if there is no deal) showed that it is possible for the Commons to pass legislation very quickly.

10.13am BST

Q: If there is no agreement reached, will the PM write the letter he has to send by the end of Saturday requesting a Brexit extension?

Barclay says the PM will comply with the Benn Act, and with the undertakings given to the court in Scotland.

10.07am BST

Q: Are you negotiating a revised political declaration with the EU?

Yes, says Barclay. He says the UK and the EU are discussing revised text.

10.04am BST

Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, has just started giving evidence to the Commons Brexit committee.

Hilary Benn, the committee chairs, asks if the Commons will meet on Saturday if there is no deal. Barclay says that will be something for Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, to announce.

9.56am BST

ComRes has released some Brexit polling this morning, which was commissioned for a Channel 5 programme going out tonight, Live Brexit Referendum. It was an unusually large poll, featuring 26,000 respondents. Most polls involve 1,000 or 2,000 people taking part.

Here are the key findings.

For the record, the ComRes poll doing the rounds today is presented as Leave 50%, Remain 42%.

This would be a very unusual result, as almost every poll that’s asked a straight Remain/Leave question since mid-2017 has round Remain ahead. See the links here https://t.co/YwK7pLJ1BI

The reason is that the ComRes poll was *actually* Deal 30%, No Deal 20%, Remain 42%, and the two leave options are added up.

This is far less surprising, when polls split out different options like they they do often find the Leave options sum to more than the Remain ones.

The reason is largely that some people who say they back leaving with a deal, will back remain if asked a straight remain/leave question.

9.42am BST

The Irish agriculture minister, Michael Creed, said this morning there was some room for optimism in relation to Brexit. He said:

This time last week we were probably engulfed in darkness and depression in the context of Brexit.

There is some room for optimism now but we’re not there yet. However I would countenance if we do get a deal in Brussels on Brexit we have been here before with the withdrawal agreement which didn’t get through the House of Commons so there are some hurdles to be cleared yet and I’m not underestimating those in any way.

9.40am BST

From Bloomberg’s Nikos Chrysoloras

Boris Johnson’s government is pessimistic about the chances of securing a #Brexit deal after his Northern Irish allies raised objections to the plans that have been drawn up in talks in Brussels, according to a British official, @TimRoss_1 reports. https://t.co/TWY3PGvbVt

9.32am BST

The DUP is denying multiple reports this morning that it had been offered “billions” in Downing St talks in the past two days.

A DUP spokesman said: “This is categorically untrue and utter nonsense.“

The DUP secured £1bn in investment for Northern Ireland as part of the confidence and supply deal with Theresa May after the 2017 election returned a hung parliament.

Reports in Ireland suggest what might be on the table is a package involving the EU, Ireland and the UK.

The EU has already promised it will continue, whatever the outcome of Brexit talks, the Peace IV programme which has invested millions in cross-community initiatives.

Northern Ireland also benefits from the Interreg regional programme for bordering countries, which also includes Scotland.

Those reports prompted this tweet last night from Nick Macpherson, a former permanent secretary to the Treasury.

Another difficult night in prospect for HM Treasury. Every PM I worked under sought to answer the Irish question. And, whether or not they succeeded, the prospective deal required up front many millions, sometimes billions, of cash. #dotheyeverlearn

9.21am BST

Mark Francois, the deputy chair of the European Research Group, which represents Tories pushing for a harder Brexit, has just told Sky’s All Out Politics that he and his ERG colleagues have “a number of concerns” about what is being proposed by Boris Johnson. But he refused to give details.

He also said that he would give “very strong weight” to the views of the DUP when deciding whether or not to back any deal negotiated by Johnson (backing up what David Davis told the Today programme – see 9.03am.)

9.15am BST

From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

Govt sources are indicating this morning chances of a deal this week are now shrinking – this is of course, partly because room for manouvre limited by DUP and Brexiteers, even tho many of them are reluctantly on board

9.03am BST

David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, told the Today programme this morning that some Tory Brexiters would be strongly influenced by the DUP in deciding whether or not to back Boris Johnson’s deal. In an interview this morning the presenter Nick Robinson pointed out that the DUP have 10 votes in the Commons. Davis said that understated their influence.

You said 10 votes, by the way earlier. Just as an aside on that, there will be quite a lot of Tory MPs who will take their line from what the DUP do.

I will look at what they say. If the DUP says this is intolerable to us, that will be quite important.

If we believe what we read, there is going to be complete openness between the British market, the rest of the UK market, and the Northern Ireland market for British goods sold in Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland goods sold in Britain. There would be a red channel, as it were, for outside goods. That’s what we are told. So that preserves that bit of it.

In terms of the union, we are not seeing a break-up of the union in those terms.

8.45am BST

From Sky’s Michelle Clifford

UK’s Brexit negotiator @DavidGHFrost is back in the European Commission to resume talks in hope of getting legal text done ahead of Council Summit tomorrow. EU official says progress has been made

8.44am BST

8.38am BST

A Number 10 source has told the Press Association that the talks in Brussels went on until 1.30am this morning. “Constructive talks, worked into the night, continue to make progress, continue in the morning,” the source said.

8.34am BST

From the BBC’s Adam Fleming

#brexit talks resuming now. https://t.co/iCjU0BW9ca

8.28am BST

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Sarah Marsh.

We will be focusing exclusive on Brexit today. Here are the main events in the diary.

8.15am BST

That’s it from me, I am handing over the live blog to Andrew Sparrow.

8.10am BST

9:01 and no sign of UK negotiator David Frost yet.

Negotiations were meant to kick off again 1 minute ago…and there’s a welcome committee all waiting too… pic.twitter.com/Ec9CPisc0D

8.04am BST

There are multiple reports that the DUP is being offered a significant cash deal alongside the Brexit pact.

The Financial Times is reporting sources as saying the DUP were being offered “billions not millions” as a sweetener.

Downing St AGAIN downbeat there will be real. Government source telling me: “Chances of a deal are low. DUP seem unlikely to support anything that’s negotiable”. This follows the meeting with DUP last night. To be clear, as I said last night, this could be final…

8.03am BST

British and EU negotiators are to press on with more talks in Brussels this morning to try and reach a new withdrawal agreement before a summit of EU leaders tomorrow. The EU chief negotiator suggested a deal had to be reached by 11pm UK time to be approved at the summit.

7.54am BST

With just two weeks until the UK’s scheduled withdrawal from the European Union on 31 October, the National Audit Office (NAO) said that mitigating the risks was now, to some extent, out of the government’s control.

The most significant risks to the operation of the border remain business-readiness, EU member states imposing controls, and arrangements for the Northern Ireland and Ireland land border.

In its report, the NAO said the government has made progress with putting in place the systems, infrastructure and resources required to manage the border if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October, but said “there is still some work to do to finalise arrangements in the short time that remains and bringing all these elements together for the first time in a live environment carries inherent risk”.

The report adds: “It is impossible to know exactly what would happen at the border in the event of no deal on October 31 2019.”

7.48am BST

A delegation of cross-party MPs led by Dominic Grieve is heading to Brussels this morning for a series of meetings with EU diplomats.

The delegation is believed to include the Labour MP David Lammy, the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, the former Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, the leader of Plaid Cymru in the House of Commons, Liz Saville Roberts, and Peter Grant of the SNP.

They are not meeting EU officials but have a round of meetings with ambassadors for various EU countries.

Grant said in a tweet they were going “to ask the EU not to let Johnston [sic] crash us out without a deal”.

Early start this morning to travel to Brussels with a cross-party group of MPs to ask the EU not to let Johnston crash us out without a deal. pic.twitter.com/OkDpkQLsf9

7.41am BST

The Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, has renewed calls for a second referendum, saying that what Boris Johnson is considering could be “worse for the economy than the hit during the financial crisis”.

Swinson said that any deal done in Brussels should be put back to the people for a vote.

The government is desperate to try to create a deal no matter how demanding that will be for our country. Let’s be clear at what it looks like [Johnson is] considering, which is some kind of free trade agreement … [That could be] worse for our economy than the hit during the financial crash.

There is no deal that is better than deal we have as members EU. We will not support any deal but what we want to happen … is that whatever Brexit deal is negotiated is put to people so the public can have the final say.

7.26am BST

Brexit negotiations are to continue on a final day of efforts to get a deal ready for a crucial EU summit, after Tuesday’s talks ran into the small hours of the morning.

Time is running out for Boris Johnson to get an agreement in place so it can be approved at the Brussels summit starting on Thursday.

7.19am BST

That’s it from me, I’m handing over to my colleague Sarah Marsh.

7.07am BST

*Wakes up, wondering what’s happened on Brexit overnight, switch on radio* Adam Fleming: “I’ll be honest with you Nick, no one has a clue what’s going on”

7.01am BST

Jo Swinson is doing the rounds of breakfast media this morning. She just appeared on BBC Breakfast talking about palns to push for a people’s vote and will be on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme at 7:20am.

Tune into @BBCr4today at 7.20 this morning to listen to @joswinson talk about the Liberal Democrats’ Peole’s Vote amendment to the Queen’s speech ⏰

6.40am BST

Guardian front page, Wednesday 16 October 2019: Johnson close to a Brexit deal – now he has to sell it pic.twitter.com/OLtSteRGnO

EXPRESS; PM: I’ll strike a deal that’s best for Britain #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/NqHPnr0qUs

TIMES: Johnson hit by prospect of no Brexit until 2020 #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/uty7q6hmdh

The front page of tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph: ‘Johnson prepares to unveil Brexit deal’ #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/qlvI0Nm2pW

FT: Johnson pressed to yield more ground in race to find Brexit deal #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/0S5ea2w3N2

6.20am BST

The Guardian’s political correspondent Kate Proctor reports that the Liberal Democrats will try to push MPs to a fresh vote on a second Brexit referendum next week.

The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of remain and have been the leading voice in the People’s Vote campaign.

Boris Johnson is determined to have a general election, but the best way to resolve the Brexit chaos is to have a people’s vote and give the British people the final say about their future.

Related: Lib Dems in renewed push for second Brexit referendum vote

6.10am BST

At the heart of all this is the Irish border. Here’s our explainer on the issue in relation to Brexit.

Counties and customs

6.01am BST

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the day’s political happenings. It’s a pleasure to be with you on the day in which a draft text of a Brexit agreement might, possibly, who knows, finally be published.

Johnson appeared to be on the brink of reaching a Brexit deal yesterday after making major concessions to the EU over the issue of the Irish border. If Downing Street gives the final green light, the agreement could be published today, though it will still have to be voted on in parliament, and the deal, which is understood to include a customs border down the Irish Sea, would be unlikely to appeal to the DUP.

Continue reading…

Brexit: Parliament could remain suspended even if court finds against PM, government suggests – as it happened

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including the final day of the supreme court hearing to determine if Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension of parliament was lawful

6.00pm BST

5.53pm BST

Speaking to reporters on his visit to Wiltshire, Boris Johnson refused to rule out proroguing parliament a second time if he lost the supreme court case. Asked to rule out this option, he replied:

I have the greatest respect for the judiciary in this country. The best thing I can say at the moment whilst their deliberations are continuing is that obviously I agree very much with the master of the rolls and the lord chief justice and others who found in our favour the other day. I will wait to see what transpires.

I don’t want to exaggerate the progress that we are making, but we are making progress …

You heard Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday say that he doesn’t have any emotional attachment to the backstop. Now that is progress – they weren’t saying that a month ago.

5.45pm BST

Boris Johnson has told British troops being deployed to Mali that joining a peacekeeping mission in the area was a “good idea” in the hope that the French would be “nice to us”. As the Press Association reports, Johnson was meeting with soldiers from the British Army at the Salisbury Plain training zone in Wiltshire, to see how military spending by the government was being implemented.

After learning some were to be deployed to Mali as part of efforts by the United Nations in the African country, Johnson referred to the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Press Association reports. “Mali, that was the promise we made to the French,” Johnson said.

It was a very good idea in the hope that they would be nice to us … We’re waiting to see how that works out, Monsieur Macron.

5.41pm BST

From my colleague Jennifer Rankin

Three British ‘non-papers’ have been sent to Michel Barnier’s team: food-safety, animal and plant health (SPS), customs + manufactured goods.

EU diplomats not optimistic about breakthrough that has eluded everyone for two years.

5.33pm BST

The Scottish government has scrapped one of its headline policies, its controversial “named person” scheme, only a few days after bowing to opposition demands for an inquiry into two botched hospital projects.

Its sharp reversals in two key areas on which the Scottish National party government was refusing to budge until now suggests the SNP is shoring up its policy programme in preparation for a general election.

4.57pm BST

Here are the main points from today’s supreme court hearing in the case that will determine whether or not Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks was lawful. Today was the last day of a three-day hearing. You can read Tuesday’s highlights here, and Wednesday’s highlights here and here.

A Queen’s speech, and the state opening of parliament which accompanies it, is a significant political, constitutional and ceremonial occasion, which ordinarily involves the sovereign attending in person. As the court will be well aware, the proper preparations for a Queen’s speech are a matter of thoroughgoing importance, including in relation to the content of that speech. Extensive arrangements would have to be made, including as to security, to enable this to occur. These considerations lead to the need for any order that the court makes, if necessary, to allow for these steps relating to the earlier meeting of parliament to occur in an orderly fashion.

In my respectful submission, the applicants and the petitioners are inviting the court into forbidden territory and into what is essentially a minefield, an ill-defined minefield that the courts are not – with the greatest of respect – properly equipped to deal with.

I must repeat that this case is not about when and on what terms the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. The result of this case will not determine that. We are solely concerned with the lawfulness of the prime minister’s decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament on the dates in question.

4.21pm BST

The chancellor, Sajid Javid, has been in Dublin for the third meeting with his Irish counterpart, Paschal Donohoe, since he became chancellor eight weeks ago.

It demonstrates that a direct channel of communication has been opened at a senior level in both governments despite the Brexit impasse.

Whatever happens next year regardless of Brexit, it is essential that not only we maintain the strength of our relationship between our two great countries but we find ways to enhance that.

3.51pm BST

Gina Miller left the supreme court to cheers and boos from the large crowd waiting outside the court building. As the Press Association reports, a small group of pro-Brexit protesters shouted “shame on you” and “traitor” as she got into a waiting car.

3.50pm BST

3.43pm BST

Here are three lawyers who regularly tweet who all think it is looking bad for the government in the supreme court case.

Pannick is a cross bench peer as well as a QC. They are now hearing his submission with the weight of a parliamentarian behind it – as to the right remedy.
I’m calling this for the Claimants. I think it’s over.

Do we dare a double prediction?

I’m with Dinah…

(Noting Lady Hale expressly said we should make no assumptions) https://t.co/C5OKZYKtTq

This is a now *very* detailed discussion of remedies

Government lawyers will be squirming

Pannick also providing a practical way forward for court and parliament to sort problem out speedily, if Supreme Court goes against government

3.33pm BST

From Joshua Rozenberg, the legal commentator

It looks as if Lady Hale hopes to produce a reasonably complete judgment over the weekend representing the view of the court — or of a majority if they are split. Individual sections could be written by different justices. Much better than a bald decision with reasons to follow.

3.31pm BST

Joanna Cherry says she would like the court to be as clear as possible about what should happen next if it finds against the government. She said parliament should sit again as soon as possible.

At the moment parliament is not due to reconvene until three weeks on Monday – 14 October.

3.24pm BST

Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP who launched the legal challenge in Scotland, has just told BBC News that she was “very encouraged” by the long discussion about remedies that the court had a few minutes ago, at the end of the hearing. (See 3.08pm and 3.11pm.) She says she is “cautiously optimistic”.

The assumption is that the judges would not be taking an interest in the logistics of what might happen if they find against the government unless there is a good chance that they will.

3.17pm BST

Lady Hale, president of the court, thanks the court staff and everyone else involved in the case.

She stresses what she said at the opening of the case – that this hearing will not decide whether or how the UK leaves the EU.

3.15pm BST

Pannick refers to paragraph 17 of the government’s remedies paper.

The court may find that it would be unlawful for parliament to remain prorogued for any further period and that advising the sovereign to bring forward the meeting of parliament pursuant to the Meeting of Parliament Act 1797 is the only option lawfully open to the prime minister. In that event, a declaration would be sufficient on the basis that the prime minister would comply with the terms of a judgment having that effect. It would of course be open to the court to consider whether to make a mandatory order or interlocutor requiring the prime minister so to advise Her Majesty. However, the grant of mandatory relief is in the discretion of the court, and that discretion is to be exercised having regard to the facts as they stand now and the practical consequences of any order.

3.11pm BST

Lord Kerr puts it to Pannick that, if the advice to prorogue parliament was unlawful, any action taken upon that advice had no effect.

Pannick says he assumes the court will give a judgment, and produce its reasons later (a standard court procedure).

3.08pm BST

Lady Hale asks if the PM needs to do anything to ensure parliament meets next week.

Pannick says it could be the case that the Speaker and the Lord Speaker could take action if the court were to rule prorogation unlawful.

This court will produce an answer as soon as it humanly can.

3.00pm BST

Here is the text of the government’s remedy document (pdf), which has just been formally published on the government’s website.

2.58pm BST

Pannick says the court should make a declaration as soon as possible.

He says, if the government loses, parliament should resume “as soon as possible next week”.

2.54pm BST

Pannick says the supreme court should do in this case what it does in other public law cases – apply constitutional principles to the facts of the case.

And then, giving the PM a “broad margin of discretion”, the court should ask if the PM went beyond his powers.

2.50pm BST

Pannick says the government is arguing that this case is not justiciable, and that there is no element of constitutional law involved.

But, Pannick says, he is arguing that constitutional law is engaged – and that the issue is justiciable.

2.47pm BST

Pannick says he would invite the court to draw the inference that the length of the prorogation was influenced by the PM’s desire to stop parliament obstructing his policies.

There is no other rational reason for the length of the prorogation, he says.

2.44pm BST

Lord Pannick QC, who represents Gina Miller, is summing up the case against the government now.

He says the government has not explained why it needed a five-week prorogation.

2.38pm BST

This is what the Press Association has filed about the government’s remedy document. (See 12.04pm and 12.27pm.)

Parliament may remain suspended even if Boris Johnson loses at the supreme court.

Documents submitted to the court on his behalf on Thursday reveal three possible scenarios in the event the 11 justices conclude the prime minister’s advice to the Queen to prorogue parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

2.34pm BST

Keen has now finished.

2.29pm BST

Keen is now addressing the issue of “remedy” (ie, what might happen if the court rules against the government).

He says he contends that a determination from the court that prorogation was unlawful would suffice.

2.25pm BST

Keen says the government thinks the Commons will have a chance to debate all the statutory instruments required for Brexit before 31 October.

And he says some of the five Brexit bills yet to be passed by parliament do not have to be passed by 31 October.

2.24pm BST

Keen says Aidan O’Neill QC, who represents Joanna Cherry and the other parliamentarians bringing the legal challenge in Scotland, was “discourteous, incendiary and wholly unwarranted” in what he said about Boris Johnson yesterday.

O’Neill, you may remember, branded Johnson “the father of lies”.

2.17pm BST

Keen says prorogation can have political purposes.

If parliament wants to block prorogation, it can move a motion of no confidence. That will be debated, if it is tabled by the leader of the opposition.

How in the context of that political minefield is the court to opine on the issue of purpose or improper purpose, or legitimate political purpose or illegitimate political purpose? How are these concepts to be defined and applied in this context?

In my respectful submission, the applicants and the petitioners are inviting the court into forbidden territory and into what is essentially a minefield, an ill-defined minefield.

2.06pm BST

Lord Keen, the advocate general for Scotland, is now summing up for the government at the supreme court.

He says the court is being determined to rule on how long prorogation should last.

2.01pm BST

In an interview with a group of journalists in Warsaw today, the Polish foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, ruled out his government blocking a potential British request for an article 50 extension.

Some hardline Brexiteers had hoped either Poland or Hungary, who have their own adversarial relationships with Brussels, could be persuaded to block the extension that Boris Johnson is legally required to ask for if he doesn’t negotiate a deal. Earlier this week, Hungary’s foreign minister Péter Szijjártó ruled out a similar move from Hungary.

1.54pm BST

The Brexit department has now released the full text of Stephen Barclay’s speech in Spain this morning.

I have already quoted Barclay saying the EU must “compromise” if a no-deal Brexit is to be avoided. (See 9.36am.)

Now as a business audience, I am sure you recognise that in growing a business you’re required to take risk.

Those who refuse to take any risk with their business will not succeed.

1.37pm BST

Here is an extract from what Lord Garnier QC told the supreme court when he was making a submission on behalf of Sir John Major this morning. Garnier said:

One of the central points of the present case – and the reason why these proceedings are necessary at all – is that the power of prorogation subverts the possibility of control by political means.

Its effect is to deprive parliament of a voice throughout the period of the prorogation.

1.12pm BST

This is what Jolyon Maugham, the barrister leading the legal challenge against prorogation in Scotland, told Sky News about the government’s remedy document. (See 12.04pm and 12.27pm.)

There’s a great big fuss about these submissions, because quite remarkably the government is not willing to release them to the media. But the normal rule is that once they are mentioned in open court they are available to be published. So I’ve published them.

I can tell you what they say. They contemplate a world where the supreme court rules this prorogation unlawful – the government is plainly contemplating in that world, continuing the prorogation until October 14th. So their very delicate, thorough submissions [are] seeking to persuade the supreme court to leave that door open to the government. That’s striking stuff.

1.02pm BST

And here is an extract from Sir John Major’s submission (pdf) arguing that, if the supreme court does not draw a negative conclusion from Boris Johnson’s failure to produce a witness statement saying prorogation had nothing to do with silencing parliament over Brexit (the negative conclusion being, it was, and Johnson has not been truthful), then that would only encourage other ministers to mislead courts in the same way.

The scope for such an inference [a negative inference from the failure to produce a witness statement] in the present case is if anything greater in view of the requirements of the duty of candour. The prime minister is under a duty “to explain the full facts and reasoning underlying the decision challenged”: AHK v secretary of state for the home department [2012] EWHC 1117 (Admin) at §22. His failure or refusal to do so is conspicuous, and there has been no proper explanation for it. The only conceivable explanation is that the true reasons if disclosed would be adverse to his case. If the court proceeded on any basis other than by drawing an adverse inference to that effect, the result would be to incentivise the non-provision of proper explanations of decisions in future cases.

12.54pm BST

The morning hearing is now over. The court will sit again at 2pm.

Here is an extract from the submission (pdf) from Sir John Major’s team illustrating how a PM could abuse the right to prorogue parliament if the supreme court decides this matter is not justiciable (open to legal challenge).

If that conclusion [ie, the prorogation is not justiciable] were correct, the consequence would be that there is nothing in law to prevent a prime minister from proroguing parliament in any circumstances or for any reason.

In the context of constitutional settlement in which parliament is acknowledged to be sovereign, that would be a remarkable position for the courts to endorse. It would follow that the courts would not intervene even if, for example:

12.40pm BST

On Sky News the lawyer Jolyon Maugham says the government’s remedy document that he disclosed (see 12.04pm) shows the government is considering continuing prorogation until 14 October even if it loses. “That’s striking stuff,” he says.

12.33pm BST

Here is the BBC’s Dominic Casciani on Edward Garnier’s submission.

His submissions are a great read. Here are his examples of what a future dodgy PM could to if the Supreme Court does not intervene and rule this prorogation unlawful: pic.twitter.com/M0PFc6ht4r

Later he cites an important case from the New Zealand Supreme Court (international cases are commonly referred to at this level) which was about a dodgy estate agent who misled a client – his point being that Prime Minister Johnson has a duty to be at least better than that.

And so, based on the available evidence – and the lack of a witness statement – Lord Garnier says Mr Johnson’s reasons for the 5-week prorogation cannot be true.

This is the judgement of one British Conservative Prime Minister, John Major, about the motivations and alleged machinations of another, Boris Johnson.

Lord Garnier for Sir John: We do not believe the documents given to the court provide the true reason for prorogation. In those circumstances it would be justifiable for the court to infer his true intentions.

12.27pm BST

On Monday Lord Keen, who was representing the government, told the supreme court that if it found against the government, Boris Johnson would “take all necessary steps to comply with any declaration made by the court”.

But it has now emerged that, even if he loses, Johnson does not want to recall parliament before 14 October – the day it is due to come back.

12.10pm BST

Garnier is now summarising some of the arguments in the written submission.

12.10pm BST

Lord Garnier QC is now addressing the court on behalf of Sir John Major. (See 9.19am.)

His written submission is here (pdf).

12.04pm BST

Jolyon Maugham, the barrister and director of the Good Law Project who led the legal challenge against prorogation in Scotland, has just tweeted the statement from the government about its proposed remedy if it loses the case – ie, what it will do to put the matter right. See 11.44am.

Here is the Government’s Submissions on Remedy, just mentioned. 1 of 2 pic.twitter.com/98fMWa48un

And 2 of 2. pic.twitter.com/cHw2akfwus

I now understand that the Government is refusing to disclose these to the media. My understanding of the law is that once the submissions are mentioned in open court they can be disclosed. Neither my legal team, or another with whom I have checked, are aware that they were…

12.01pm BST

Turning away from the hearing for a moment, the UK government has announced that it has now shared “technical non-papers” with the EU about alternatives to the backstop. A government spokesman said:

We have been having detailed discussions with the [European] commission’s taskforce 50 in recent weeks. We have now shared in written form a series of confidential technical non-papers which reflect the ideas the UK has been putting forward. We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them as a replacement for the backstop.

11.54am BST

11.51am BST

In his written submission (pdf) Fordham says there are five reasons why the PM’s decision to prorogue parliament is justiciable. The high court in England concluded that it wasn’t.

Here are Fordham’s five reasons.

First, because the analysis of justiciability should be integrated with consideration of the legal merits and not addressed in rigid isolation from them …

Secondly, because the principled scope of judicial review, foundationally underpinned by courts identifying what the rule of law requires, secures that executive action be accountable for its compatibility (a) with contextually calibrated public law standards and in particular (b) with established constitutional principles and values …

11.45am BST

Now Michael Fordham for Welsh government

Fordham is the author of the most detailed practitioner guide on judicial review https://t.co/P89njEPbHi

He may be only barrister to have read and considered every single judicial review case ever

Ubergeek

Hence why this is case-heavy

11.44am BST

Fordham says a form of “remedy” has been proposed to the court.

This is a reference to a statement from the government explaining what the government will do if the court finds that prorogation was unlawful. In the hearing yesterday Lady Hale said she would like to see such a statement before the end of today’s hearing.

11.40am BST

Mike Fordham QC is now speaking on behalf of the Welsh government.

Here is his written submission (pdf).

11.36am BST

Lavery says his client’s son was murdered because of conditions in Northern Ireland at the time. That is why he feels strongly about this, and why he wants the supreme court to intervene.

On that point Lavery winds up.

11.35am BST

From David Allen Green, the FT’s legal commentator

If I were Lavery, I would sit down now

Regardless of the merits of his points, there’s no coming back from that

11.34am BST

Lord Wilson intervenes. He says he is worried that people be watching Lavery’s submission will conclude that the points he is making – about Brexit’s impact on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday agreement – are at the heart of the case. But they are not. He tells Lavery:

Don’t abuse our patience and don’t abuse Lady Hale’s patience.

11.23am BST

Lord Sales tells Lavery his arguments are “completely irrelevant” to the issues being determined by the court.

Once again, the court getting frustrated with Ronan Lavery. Lord Sales: “I fail to see how any of this has anything to do with the prorogation of Parliament.

“I’m afraid this strikes me as completely irrelevant to the legal questions we have to decide.”

11.19am BST

In his written submission (pdf) Lavery argues that prorogation has already had “a much greater impact on the rights of people in Northern Ireland” than on the rights of people in the rest of the UK. He says victims of the Troubles have lost the chance to have their concerns debated in parliament.

He justifies this point by saying that the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act requires regular debates to be held on certain issues. On Monday 9 September there were motions for five separate debates on the Commons order paper. But four of those debates, covering gambling, human trafficking, payments to victims and historical institutional abuse, were cancelled because prorogation meant other matters needed to be debated instead.

11.10am BST

Lady Hale, president of the court, says the issues raised by Lavery are not relevant to this case. The court is not looking at the rights and wrongs of Brexit. It is just looking at whether the decision to prorogue was justified.

Lavery says if the decision to prorogue was taken for the wrong reasons, the court should intervene.

11.08am BST

Ronan Lavery QC is now speaking at the supreme court on behalf of Raymond McCord, who brought a legal challenge against the government’s Brexit policy in Northern Ireland.

McCord’s son was killed by loyalist terrorists in 1997. He took the government to court on the grounds that its Brexit strategy could undermine the Good Friday agreement. But his challenge was rejected by the high court in Belfast.

11.02am BST

Wolffe says he wants to make two points from a Scottish perspective.

First, he says this case does not turn on any special feature of Scots law.

10.55am BST

Wolffe says, if the UK government’s claim that prorogation is non-justiciable is correct, then it would be open to a prime minister to prorogue parliament as soon as he took office.

10.51am BST

Wolffe says what’s at stake in this case is parliamentary accountability.

This is what he says in his written submission (pdf).

It is a fundamental principle of the UK’s constitutional democracy that the executive is accountable to parliament – that the government’s policies and actions are subject to scrutiny in parliament by the elected representatives of the people. That principle – the principle of responsible government – is “no less fundamental to our constitution” than the legal doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament. It applies to the relations between the UK government and the UK parliament, and is reflected in the constitutional arrangements set out in the devolution statutes. The purposes served by that principle include: (i) subjecting the policies of the executive to consideration by the representatives of the people; (ii) promoting transparency of executive action by requiring the government to report, explain and defend its actions; and (iii) protecting citizens from the arbitrary exercise of executive power. In a society governed by the rule of law, that constitutional principle must be, and is, recognised by the law.

10.45am BST

James Wolffe QC, the lord advocate, the Scottish government’s chief law officer, has just started making his statement on behalf of the Scottish government.

I’ve taken down an earlier post saying it was James Mure. (The supreme court website said Wolffe would be represented by James Mure.)

10.32am BST

The supreme court hearing is about to resume.

This is from the BBC’s Andrew Kerr.

Final day of Supreme Court hearings into the legality of Parliamentary suspension. A top source from the UK Government said: “we’re stuffed”. The other side remain optimistic – thinking it might go their way with 7/4 or 8/3 judge majority in their favour.

10.29am BST

Omar Salem, the Labour activist who confronted Boris Johnson about conditions in a hospital that the PM was visiting yesterday, has defended the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, for tweeting about his Labour background.

@bbclaurak is doing her job without fear or favour, which is a vital part of democracy.

I don’t think “Labour activist cares about NHS” is a huge scoop though… https://t.co/GiSeSmzZ7m

No.10 source on hospital father being Labour activist: “That doesn’t change a thing. He’s the parent of a child going through NHS treatment.
“If he’d been a Tory blue voting for 10 yrs, if you’d a poor experience of your child in the NHS I’m pretty sure you’d feel the same way” https://t.co/W1V9GS2Xuv

I’ve been PM for 57 days, part of my job is to talk to people on the ground and listen to what they tell me about the big problems. It doesn’t matter if they agree with me.

I’m glad this gentleman told me his problems. This isn’t an embarrassment this is part of my job. https://t.co/j60ODrROXi

I’ve been thinking about it all day and felt I had to say something because NHS hospitals today can be unsafe places. Whipps Cross [in Leytonstone, north-east London] is particularly understaffed and under-resourced so people don’t get the care that they need as promptly as they need.

And this visit was not reflective of the realities of working at this hospital. Johnson was taken to the nicest ward in the hospital; there were flowers on display and classical music was playing in the background. I wish the prime minister could have seen some of the other wards, which are nothing like what he saw today. He should come on a night shift and see how everything doesn’t function at two in the morning.

Related: The harsh reality of underfunding at my hospital? Swept away for Johnson visit

10.07am BST

The new Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, firmed up her party’s position on Brexit at her party conference this week, saying that if the Lib Dems won a majority in a general election (quite a colossal if), they would cancel Brexit altogether. At least some voters are impressed. This morning a YouGov poll in the Times (paywall) puts the Lib Dems on 23%, up four points from the previous week and ahead of Labour, which is down two points on 21%.

One of the things that troubles me most about politics today is I can’t tell you the number of young people, in the 20s and 30s, really intelligent young people, politically committed, – a) they’ve got no home and b) they look at the state of the two main parties and say: ‘I couldn’t join either of them.’

It doesn’t matter what I say, what anyone else says. You only have to look at the Liberal Democrats now and their party conference. For the first time in long time, they are looking a much more serious group of people. Why is that? Because people have come from the Labour party, come from the Conservative party, and they have got a coherent argument. If I was the two main parties at the moment, I would worry about that.

It is an argument I agree with. I’m very tribally and deeply attached to the Labour party. But if over a long period of time someone from outside your political party is making an argument you think is more sensible, it starts to pull you in the opposite direction.

No, you shouldn’t read that into it. It just suggests a deep level of frustration about where the Labour party is and where the Conservative party has gone to.

Watson has long been viewed as one of Labour’s most tribal politicians. But [former Labour MP Michael] Dugher, one of his closest friends, suggests that he could yet join his past enemies: the Liberal Democrats. “If you’d said to me two years ago, would Tom ever countenance doing anything with the Lib Dems, I would have said ‘no chance’. Now I’d say ‘who knows?’”

9.36am BST

Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, has said Brussels needs to show more flexibility in its approach to Brexit negotiations. Speaking to business leaders while on a visit to Spain, he said:

A rigid approach now at this point is no way to progress a deal and the responsibility sits with both sides to find a solution.

We are committed to carving out a landing zone and we stand ready to share relevant texts. But it must be in the spirit of negotiation with flexibility and with a negotiating partner that itself is willing to compromise.

9.19am BST

As a Daily Telegraph columnist in the 1990s Boris Johnson was one of the many journalists on the Tory right who used to treat the then prime minister, John Major, with scorn. More than 20 years on Major finally has the chance to get his own back because we are going to witness the extraordinary spectacle of a former Conservative prime minister going to court to argue that the current Conservative prime minister has not been telling the truth. The word extraordinary is cropping up rather frequently in Brexit coverage at the moment, but it is very hard to think of a precedent for this.

Major will not actually be addressing the court himself. The supreme court is an appeal court, and it does not take evidence from witnesses. But Edward Garnier QC, now Lord Garnier, a former Tory solicitor general, will be making a submission on his behalf. It is not clear yet whether or not Major himself will be in court to listen to the proceedings.

The current factual picture, on the material which is available and with regard to the absence of evidence which ought to be available but has not been provided, is deeply concerning. The court is under no obligation to approach this case on the artificially naïve basis that the handful of disclosed documents, the contents of which nobody has been prepared to verify with a statement of truth, should nevertheless be assumed to be entirely accurate and complete when even members of the cabinet do not appear to believe them … It would also be wrong to proceed on that basis, because it would mean that the real issue that has arisen on the facts would not be resolved.

Continue reading…

Bercow insists Johnson must obey law and ask for Brexit extension – as it happened

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including a speech from the outgoing Speaker on what Brexit has taught us (so far)

9.25pm BST

We’re going to close down this live blog now, so here’s a summary of the evening’s events.

Related: John Bercow: I’ll stop Boris Johnson breaking the law on Brexit

7.36pm BST

The three Scottish appeal judges who ruled Boris Johnson had unlawfully prorogued parliament have bluntly accused the prime minister of misleading voters on his true reasons for suspending parliament.

They agree unanimously it was to prevent proper scrutiny of his Brexit strategy – and for no other reason – in their official rulings issued by the Scottish courts late on Thursday afternoon.

The circumstances demonstrate that the true reason for the prorogation is to reduce the time available for parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit at a time when such scrutiny would appear to be a matter of considerable importance, given the issues at stake.

[Put] shortly, prorogation was being mooted specifically as a means to stymie any further legislation regulating Brexit.

If no reason is given, in the present circumstances, I am of opinion that the decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks out of the seven remaining before the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union leads inevitably to the conclusion that the reason for prorogation was to prevent parliamentary scrutiny of the government. I find it impossible to see that it could serve any other rational purpose.

Procedural manoeuvres are the stuff of politics, whether conducted in parliament or in lesser bodies. However, when the manoeuvre is quite so blatantly designed ‘to frustrate parliament’ at such a critical juncture in the history of the United Kingdom, I consider that the court may legitimately find it to be unlawful.

7.23pm BST

Bercow draws his address to a close, saying that the evolution and renaissance of parliament has been a positive development in the last decade. Now, he adds, it is “time to ask whether a written constitution is what we need to allow us to complete the voyage”.

7.20pm BST

He says he was previously sceptical but has come to conclude that it’s worth establishing a royal commission or a Speaker’s conference to look into the idea. Bercow says an act could be passed in the interim to make sure parliament’s authority is ensured.

7.18pm BST

The Speaker turns to the question of a codified constitution, saying the UK’s in a group of only three nations not to have one. He says the UK has been “travelling in the direction” of such a constitution.

7.17pm BST

Concerned he has sat too long on the fence, Bercow adds:

Let me make myself crystal clear: Ladies and gentlemen, the only form of Brexit which we will have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.

7.14pm BST

The Speaker has issued a stinging rebuke to those who support the idea of the prime minister, Boris Johnson, refusing to ask Brussels for a delay to Brexit – as the law requires.

Not obeying the law must surely be a non-starter. Period. Surely, in 2019, in modern Britain, in a parliamentary democracy, we – parliamentarians, legislators – cannot in all conscience be conducting a debate as to whether adherence to the law is or isn’t required.

What conceivable moral force do the public’s elected representatives have in seeking to tackle antisocial behaviour, in prosecuting with greater vigour and imagination and relentlessness the fight against knife crime, in arguing that the state must protect itself against all sorts of nefarious illegality, if we are to treat for a moment with the proposition that it might be in order, in the name of some higher cause, to disregard a law enacted by parliament?

7.08pm BST

What comes next, Bercow asks? Only three plausible possibilities:

6.58pm BST

“The Brexit episode and the restoration of parliamentary will should not be seen in isolation,” Bercow, says, in conclusion.

6.54pm BST

Moreover, Bercow stresses the importance of the backbench business committee in making sure issues that are not necessarily a priority for the government or the opposition are brought to the attention of the Commons.

One example he cites is the Hillsborough disaster, which was debated in the Commons after being scheduled by the backbench business committee.

6.49pm BST

Another device Bercow says has become important is the emergency debate, which MPs used last week to begin the process of trying to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

He explains that the instrument gives MPs the chance to, in effect, take control of the agenda of the Commons away from the executive, should a majority of the house wish to do so.

6.44pm BST

Meanwhile, three Scottish appeal court judges have refused to order the publication of the unredacted No 10 memos in the case against Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament:

BREAKING Lord Carloway &c refuse bid by Cherry et al, @BBCScotland and @NewsUK to order publication of unredacted No 10 prorogation memos as full rulings released early pic.twitter.com/iOHdPdMswY

BREAKING Lord Carloway says @BorisJohnson‘s remarks in Cabinet show he really wanted to #prorogue Westminster to promote his Brexit strategy, not for party conferences or a Queen’s speech – that was why it was illegal in his view #courtofsession pic.twitter.com/icAXW18qJj

6.40pm BST

Turning to his first point, Bercow says there has been a renewal of the Commons’ desire to and confidence in its ability to scrutinise ministers. Principal in that process, he says, has been the increasing use of an old device: the urgent question.

This allows any MP to ask the Speaker to get a minister to respond to the issue, where it’s deemed important and wouldn’t normally form part of the day’s parliamentary business.

6.36pm BST

Bercow begins by calling the most recent spell in the Commons short, yet extremely eventful. And he pays tribute to Tom Bingham, the eminent British judge for whom the lecture the Speaker is delivering is named.

He says he will cover three topics:

6.08pm BST

The outgoing Commons Speaker, John Bercow, is due to deliver a speech to the legal thinktank, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, entitled: Process of Discovery: What Brexit has taught us (so far) about Parliament, Politics and the UK Constitution.

He’s due to start any moment and we’ll be covering it here.

5.23pm BST

The truth is that we are not taking back control but losing control – of medical supplies and food and energy prices.

The worst-case scenario document downplays the risks to medical supplies, the threat to household budgets and the damage inflicted on the most vulnerable.

We need to move beyond a world dominated by fast finance.

This report presents one way to achieve that: through a comprehensive financial transactions tax that doesn’t leave loopholes for major areas of financial activity.

4.45pm BST

My colleague Jennifer Rankin in Brussels is less optimistic about the prospect of a Brexit deal than Charles Grant. (See 4.34pm.) Here is a Twitter thread with her analysis of where we are.

EU27 diplomats were briefed on Brexit talks this morning and were told the British had presented no proper, written proposals, on replacing the Irish backstop.
1

In Wed’s meeting David Frost and team outlined ideas on customs and manufactured goods in the context of alternative arrangements to backstop.
But the EU side do not think the ideas are adequate and continue to press for details.
2.

UK also asked for changes to the political declaration – a reference to a “best-in class” free trade agreement as goal.

EU side repeat any trade deal must ensure a level playing field to avoid “Singapore-on-Thames” race to the bottom.
Refer to March 2018 guidelines.
3.

Officials in Brussels don’t think a breakthrough is imminent. A return to the NI-only backstop is seen by some as the only landing zone, but UK continues to say no backstop.
4.

I asked one politician closely following Brexit if they were optimistic about a deal by 31 Oct.

“No. I just don’t see the political majority, the political will, the leadership. The Labour leadership is extremely weak. They have got no clue what they want.”

5. Ends

4.40pm BST

The Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck has told ITV’s Acting Prime Minister podcast that she would rather go into coalition with the Brexit party than with the Lib Dems. That is not because of any affection for the Brexit party – she says she despises them – but because she could not accept a coalition with a party committed to revoking article 50.

Labour MP @EmmaLewellBuck told @PaulBrandITV why she would choose the Brexit Party over the Lib Dems to go into a Brexit coalition.

Watch the full episode here: https://t.co/fZi0PJdjMN

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://t.co/KCumZQBsSY… and on Spotify.#ITVActingPM pic.twitter.com/WK28cioDhJ

4.34pm BST

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, is always worth reading on Brexit. Here is a Twitter thread with his assessment of the latest state of play.

A deal between EU and UK is more likely than I had thought – my conclusion after 2 days of meetings with EU, member-state and UK officials. Senior figures on EU side say they can scrap backstop as long as alternatives deliver on protecting a) single mkt; b) GFA. /1

They also say BJ has indicated that he can live with rest of withdrawal agreement if backstop goes. In some key national capitals BJ has made a quite good impression. But some of David Frost’s meetings in BXL have lowered expectations on EU side, conveying hard red lines. /2

The essence of the deal would be to replicate effects of N I-only backstop. On agri, as BJ has said, NI would follow EU rules. In other areas: a combo of regulatory alignment with EU, and discreet controls – ‘dedramatised, dematerialised, delocalised’ – away from border. /3

France, Germany, Commission could go along with this, but only if UK produces serious proposals, which it has not yet done. It would have to accept role for ECJ. But what about Ireland, which says it prefers prospect of no deal to a deal sans backstop? /4

The other member-states do not want to put pressure on Ireland. But if the UK gets serious about a deal and shows flexibility, there would be gentle encouragement for Dublin to accept something almost equivalent to backstop. /5

Of course the difficulties are immense and the gaps may prove unbridgeable. Some in DUP & ERG would not like to see N I partially aligned with EU rules. But an element of consultation for Stormont on rule changes could help. /6

Also, add EU officials, in one respect BJ is right: the new UK law v no deal has taken pressure off Irish govt and UK Parliament to compromise. But some EU govts think BJ may be serious about a deal, perhaps before Oct 31. ENDS @CER_EU

4.15pm BST

Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said today that there was no reason for the EU to grant the UK another Brexit extension. He said:

We see no extension for Brexit, when there is no reason to. At the moment, there is no reason to give an extension.

When there are concrete reasons … we will discuss whether we will give a new mandate or a new extension, but that is not the case at the moment.

4.09pm BST

Antoinette Sandbach, one of the 21 pro-European Tories who lost the whip after rebelling against the government on Brexit last week, has said that she is now fully committed to the idea of holding a second referendum. In an open letter to constituents, she says this was necessary to “avert disaster”.

Why I am writing to my constituents to say why I now support a #peoplesvote @peoplesvotefor1 @peoplesvote_hq #Yellowhammer pic.twitter.com/lOt42FbNv5

3.53pm BST

Here is a question from below the line.

@Andrew: What are the implications of the Government refusing to comply with the motion to provide all communications around proroguing Parliament? Are they in contempt? Can/will it be taken further? Thanks.

3.38pm BST

These are from the BBC’s Adam Fleming in Brussels.

UK officials say yesterday’s talks between David Frost and the European Commission were serious, but EU27 diplomats were told the British proposals were “aspirational” and “concepts” at a debrief this morning. (1)

UK proposed N Ireland and Ireland be separate customs and regulatory territories. Customs checks would take place in business premises not on the border. There’d be an “enhanced market surveillance mechanism” for industrial goods using surveillance, data and tough penalties. (2)

The UK reiterated there could be a commitment to an open border in the Withdrawal Agreement with the details agreed in the transition period — which British officials insisted would end in 2020 and not be extended. (3)

Again there was a discussion about security and defence in the Political Declaration, with the UK asking for additional references to sovereingty which EU officials interpret as a “looser” relationship than the one Theresa May pursued. (40

3.34pm BST

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish government’s copy of the Yellowhammer no-deal Brexit scenario plans was marked “base scenario”, disputing claims by Michael Gove that the documents were a worst-case scenario.

Sturgeon told first minister’s questions at Holyrood it was “completely outrageous” that the UK government was contemplating a situation where medicines would be in short supply. She said it was essential that Westminster was urgently reconvened, to allow MPs to question ministers on Brexit and the Yellowhammer forecasts.

The question for the prime minister and the government is why on earth parliament is still suspended – if any government needed scrutiny, it’s this one.

Spot the difference: Scottish Govt’s copy of Yellowhammer says it’s a ‘base scenario’, while UK Govt’s says it’s a ‘reasonable worst case’.
Scottish Govt says it’s ‘puzzling’ and ‘curious’ pic.twitter.com/kecKSlt5wH

3.20pm BST

Earlier this week my colleague Peter Walker reported on how data privacy campaign groups and Labour have expressed alarm after it emerged Downing Street had ordered departments to centralise the collection and analysis of user information from the government’s main public information website ahead of Brexit. Here is is story.

Related: No 10 request for user data from government website sparks alarm

We have contacted Government regarding the collection of personal data on https://t.co/ER2StuIv0v in order to fully understand its approach to compliance with data protection law and whether any further action is necessary. pic.twitter.com/JDfIKdP4Xv

2.14pm BST

Boris Johnson has revived his plan to build a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland – saying that it would be a “very good” idea and that it would cost £15bn.

Speaking to children during his visit to lighthouse tender NLV Pharos on the Thames, Johnson said he had recently been discussing the possibility of constructing a bridge over the Irish Sea. He said:

[I was talking yesterday] about building a bridge from Stranraer in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland – that would be very good. It would only cost about £15bn.

1.47pm BST

Here is our latest story on the judgment from the high court in Belfast on Brexit. I’ve corrected the earlier post on this (see 11.38am) because it said the prorogation legal challenge was thrown out. In fact, it was the argument that a no-deal Brexit would undermine the Good Friday agreement that was rejected. A claim about prorogation being unlawful was excluded on the grounds that it is being decided in the cases in England and Wales.

Related: Northern Irish court dismisses case against no-deal Brexit

1.24pm BST

The Commons public accounts committee has published a report (pdf) this morning accusing the government of being “overly secretive” about the money it is spending on consultants who are helping it prepare for Brexit. The bill has come to at least £97m, the committee says.

Here is an extract.

Departments have made extensive use of consultancy firms in support of their preparations for Brexit, spending at least £97m by April 2019. Departments have been overly secretive about what the consultants are doing, as they have been before in providing information on other aspects of the Brexit preparations. When departments have published information on consultancy work, usually later than they should have, they have failed to meet the government’s own transparency standards. Departments took too long to publish information on the contracts being let, and some contracts were over-zealously redacted before publication.

1.15pm BST

And talking of MPs frustrating a no-deal Brexit, Sir Oliver Letwin, one of the MPs who helped to draw up the bill intended to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, has given an interview to the Evening Standard in which he suggested that MPs might pass another law to hold a referendum on Brexit before a general election.

This interview with Oliver Letwin by ⁦@JoeMurphyLondon⁩ ⁦@EveningStandard⁩ is important. He says Brexit should be resolved before an election. So unless Parliament votes for a Brexit deal, there will be a referendum before a general election https://t.co/HhqI5uyLau

[Letwin] would definitely oppose trying to decide Brexit in the hurly-burly of a general election campaign. And he is pretty sure MPs are ready to keep postponing the election until after Brexit is decided.

“I can’t see how you can do that [resolve Brexit] very well in a general election where it will get, as Alan Duncan said in a marvellous speech this week, all muddled up in other things,” he said.

12.52pm BST

In his broadcast interview this morning Boris Johnson claimed that the government’s position on prorogation had been endorsed by the high court in London. (See 10.50am.)

It is worth stressing that that is a very partial account of what the high court actually said. It rejected the claim that prorogation was unlawful. But it did not accept Johnson’s argument that his decision to prorogue had nothing to do with wanting to limit the opportunities for MPs to frustrate a no-deal Brexit. The court did not take a view on this at all. Instead it rejected the legal challenge on the grounds that decisions to prorogue parliament are inherently political, and therefore outside the scope of the courts.

12.41pm BST

Here is more from the ruling in the Belfast high court rejecting a challenge to the government’s Brexit strategy. In his written judgment Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey said:

I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute.

Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national.

12.32pm BST

In the past John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has floated the idea of moving towards a four-day working week. He commissioned the distinguished economist Lord Skidelsky to produce a report for Labour on reducing working time and today the 60-page report (pdf) has been published.

Entitled How to achieve shorter working hours, it is a long way from a blueprint for a full roll-out to a standard four-day working week. But it does propose various mechanisms that could nudge employers in that direction.

Individuals choose how much to work but within the limits set by the institutions of a particular society. These include the market system, but they also include cultural norms and the ways in which power and wealth are distributed inside and outside the market. At present, the rules governing employment are largely set by financial logic. This is inimical to a civilised reduction in hours. There is therefore a strong argument for setting up countervailing institutions to ‘nudge’ society in a direction which science and technology makes possible, and which is also desired by most people. A balance will need to be struck between what workers want from employment and what employers can afford to give. The game can be played for lower stakes than at present, but the stakes must not be so low as to bankrupt an economy, which still largely relies on private enterprise to ‘deliver the goods’.

Something is very wrong with how the world of work has changed in recent years.

Millions are working long hours, while others don’t get the regular hours they need.

12.02pm BST

David Sassoli, the new president of the European parliament, has been holding a press conference. He said that any Brexit agreement would have to have a backstop, that the UK had not yet proposed any credible alternative, and that the European parliament would be open to a Brexit delay if the UK was going to hold an election.

These are from my colleague Jennifer Rankin, the Sun’s Nick Gutteridge and ITV’s James Mates.

European parliament president David Sassoli: “Up to now – and I would like to stress this point – the United Kingdom hasn’t proposed any alternatives [to backstop] and anything that has been legally credible.”

He has just met Michel Barnier.

EU Parliament President David Sassoli, after meeting with Michel Barnier this morning: ‘You can’t have an agreement without the backstop. It couldn’t really be any clearer. That’s the position of the EU Commission, the position of the EU institutions including the EU Parliament.’

Sassoli says: ‘We’re not ruling anything out. If solutions are proposed they will be debated, all of them, provided they respect the guiding principles of the EU. But up to now I can say the UK hasn’t proposed any alternatives, anything that’s been legally credible and workable.’

Sassoli says possible options include returning to the EU’s original proposal for a Northern Ireland only backstop and revisiting the Political Declaration ‘and making it into a legally binding document’. These points are included in an EP resolution to be voted on next week.

EP President Sassoli, asked about Michel Barnier’s assessment of the Brexit talks in their meeting this morning, says: ‘Unfortunately the signals that we’re getting aren’t indicating that there’s any initiative that could reopen the negotiations, and we’re unhappy about that.’

President of European Parliament David Sassoli:
1) No new proposals have been received from the UK.
2) There will be no agreement without a backstop.
3) We will be open to an extension to Article 50 if there’s going to be an election in UK.

11.38am BST

It is 2-1 to the government in the courts now on Brexit. As my colleague Owen Bowcott reports, judges in Belfast have rejected a legal challenge arguing that the government’s Brexit policy would undermine the peace process. It has also shelved a challenge on prorogation, on the grounds that this is being dealt with by the courts in England and Wales.

The supreme court will come to a final, binding ruling after a hearing starting on Tuesday next week.

Related: Northern Irish court dismisses case against no-deal Brexit

11.34am BST

Boris Johnson has given a pooled interview for broadcasters. I have already covered his comments denying that he lied to the Queen. (See 10.50am.) Here are the other lines from the interview.

I think the British judiciary, the United Kingdom judiciary, is one of the great glories of our constitution – they are independent. And believe me, around the world people look at our judges with awe and admiration, so I’m not going to quarrel or criticise the judges.

Clearly there are two different legal views – the high court in England had a very different opinion and the supreme court will have to adjudicate in the course of the next few days, and I think it’s proper for politicians to let them get on and do that.

It is very important, as I say, that we respect the independence of the judiciary. They are learned people … There’s a separation of powers in this country.

It is very important to understand what this document is. This is a worst-case scenario which civil servants obviously have to prepare for. But in the last few months, and particularly in the 50 days since I’ve been prime minister, we’ve been massively accelerating our preparations.

We’re trying to get a deal. And I’m very hopeful we will get a deal with our European friends on October 17 or 18 or thereabouts. But if we have to come out on October 31 with no deal, we will be ready …

We need a Queen’s speech. We need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level … We are going to need bills on education, on health, on housing, on technology, on our vision for investing in science, [the] space programme, on environment, stopping the export of waste overseas and plastics – there are a huge number of things that we want to get on with and do.

10.50am BST

Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen over the suspension of parliament, insisting such claims were “absolutely not” true. Speaking on a visit to NLV Pharos, a lighthouse tender, which is moored alongside HMS Belfast on the Thames, he was asked if he had lied to the Queen when he asked her to prorogue parliament for five weeks. He replied:

Absolutely not. The high court in England plainly agrees with us but the supreme court will have to decide. We need a Queen’s speech, we need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level.

Parliament will have time both before and after that crucial summit on 17 and 18 October to talk about the Brexit deal.

I’m very hopeful that we will get a deal, as I say, at that crucial summit. We’re working very hard – I’ve been around the European capitals talking to our friends.

All three first division judges have decided that the PM’s advice to the HM the Queen is justiciable, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful.

10.39am BST

Thank you to MrPlebby in the comments below for pointing out that, while Amber Rudd may be cautiously supporting proportional representation now, two years ago, when she was not sitting as an independent MP, she was firmly against. This is what she said in a post that is still on her website.

I am afraid that I do not agree with your views on PR, and fully support first past the post. This tried-and-tested system ensures stability and clear governance, preventing disproportionate influence by minority parties with minimal public support, who typically end up holding the balance of power in PR systems.

10.23am BST

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, made the same argument as Michael Gove (see 9.22am) when he appeared on the Today programme and was asked about the Operation Yellowhammer report. He said it was a “planning assumption” and the government was addressing the potential problems identified in the document. He told the programme.

That is why we are doing things about it. That is why the chancellor opened his chequebook, that’s why we are spending the money on doing lots of things to mitigate those assumptions.

Every day, we plan everything from whether we need to find alternative suppliers, whether we need to go out to the private sector to charter things, whether we need to plan using our army or our police forces in certain scenarios.

Related: Boris Johnson to hand £1.25bn contract for new frigates to Rosyth

10.12am BST

Police officers from all over the country should be drafted in to help handle traffic in Kent in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the chairman of the county council has said. As the Press Association reports, Paul Carter told the Today programme that he wanted “boots on the ground” and assurances that arrangements were in place for police officers and Highways England staff nationwide to be ready to “man the pumps”. He said:

I want assurance from Highways England and Kent police that they have got the reciprocal arrangements with other police forces and Highways England officers around the country to make sure that they come into Kent in sufficiency to be able to man the pumps and make sure that the fluidity and the Operation Brock strategy, to keep the road network in Kent open at all times and direct them to where lorries if they are delays at the port, will be held until such time as they can depart from those ports.

There are still two or three outstanding matters which I am beating the drum on which need resolving in short order.

As long as we get satisfactory answers and progress on how the operating model for customs clearance is going to work and communicate that to the logistics haulage industry, I am pretty confident that we can avoid disruption in Kent.

10.06am BST

From Sky’s Michelle Clifford

EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator @MichelBarnier tells journalists EU still open to considering “concrete proposals” from UK. He has just gone in to brief leaders of political groups in European Parliament about #brexit

9.50am BST

Lord Hope, a former supreme court judge who is now the convenor of cross-bench peers in the Lords, has rejected claims that MPs can now re-enter the House of Commons after yesterday’s Scottish court ruling that prorogation was illegal.

Hope, a former lord president of Scotland’s courts, said appeal judges in Edinburgh were right not to order Boris Johnson to reconvene parliament before the supreme court hears the Scottish case alongside the English and Northern Irish challenges next week.

[On] Tuesday morning at 1.30, parliament was prorogued and it was prorogued to a given date on the command of Her Majesty, and you can’t just go back in and start without that order being set aside. Quite how you do that is a matter of parliamentary procedure and I just don’t know quite what the answer is meantime.

Three days are set aside but I rather doubt it will take three days. And I’m sure they will issue a judgement as soon as they possibly can, maybe for reasons given later because like everybody else, they understand the urgency of this. And it really would be a nonsense if they didn’t issue a decision until parliament resumes on 14 October. So they’ll certainly lean over backwards to get a decision out as soon as they possibly can.

Judges are impartial and they’re under oath to decide matters according to the law, and political influence either way has nothing whatever to do with it, and of course it’s one of the risks that judges run when they get involved in cases of this kind is that people make that kind of accusation.

9.45am BST

Following her resignation from the cabinet at the weekend over Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy, Amber Rudd is giving a speech tonight in which she will suggest proportional representation might produce a parliament better able to reflect what the public wants. She was on the Today programme this morning, and here are some other points she made.

I am a Conservative, and if it comes to a general election in the short term, although of course none of us know when that might be, if I’m not back with the Conservative whip then I’m likely to fight as an independent Conservative. And I’m looking at options at the moment …

I will not be fighting for another party. I hope to be fighting as a Conservative and, if not, with up to 20 people, as an independent Conservative, depending on whether the whip has been returned.

I am surprised, and I think it is a very un-Conservative thing to be doing. I have sat in three cabinets under three different prime ministers, and this level of confrontation with parliament I have never seen before.

Under Theresa May we did briefly look at the idea of prorogation. It was dismissed because we knew it would be the wrong approach, the wrong way to treat a parliament full of representatives of their own communities.

9.22am BST

Quite late last night, the government finally published the Operation Yellowhammer document about what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. You can read the document here (pdf). And here is our overnight story.

Related: Brexit: no-deal chaos fears as secret Yellowhammer papers published

The Yellowhammer documents are a worst-case scenario. They are produced so government can take plans and take steps in order to mitigate any of those consequences. And over the course of the last six weeks, this government has taken considerable steps in order to ensure that, if there is a no-deal scenario, we can leave in the safest and smoothest possible way.

But of course it is important to stress that we are fighting hard for a deal, the prime minister has been making diplomatic progress this week, and we are on our way to getting a better deal.

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