• Theresa May warned dozens of Tories could rebel over no-deal – Dozens of normally loyal Conservative MPs could rebel against the government in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit, Downing Street has been warned. Leaders of the Brexit Delivery group of MPs, comprising Leavers and Remainers, say up to 30 may back alternatives if the PM’s reworked deal isn’t voted on. No 10 says talks aimed at getting the changes MPs demand continue “at pace”. Meanwhile, John McDonnell has suggested Labour is “moving towards” backing another Brexit referendum. The shadow chancellor told the Evening Standard he was warming to the idea of MPs backing a Commons amendment which would approve the Brexit deal but only if it was put to the public in another vote. Theresa May’s efforts to win round European leaders will continue at a summit in Egypt over the weekend. (BBC)
  • Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke issue delay warning – Brexit should be delayed if Parliament does not approve a deal in the coming days, three cabinet ministers have warned publicly for the first time. Ahead of crucial votes in the Commons next week, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke say time is running out and that the country faces a choice. Writing in the Daily Mail, they say they hope there will be a breakthrough in negotiations in the next few days. This would allow a new deal to be presented to Parliament. But they argue if a deal is not endorsed by MPs imminently “it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29.” They add: “After months of uncertainty, it is time that MPs recognised the need to get a deal, accepted that this is the only deal on offer, and supported it.” (BBC)
  • Ian Austin quits Labour blaming Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – Ian Austin has become the ninth MP to quit Labour this week, blaming leader Jeremy Corbyn for “creating a culture of extremism and intolerance”. He told the BBC the leadership had failed to tackle anti-Semitism and had turned the party into a “narrow sect”. But the MP for Dudley North said he had no plans to join the new Independent Group of former Labour and Tory MPs. Mr Corbyn denied claims bullying was rife in Labour, telling Sky News any “bad behaviour” had been dealt with. Meanwhile, his deputy Tom Watson said Mr Austin’s departure was a “serious blow” to Labour. A Labour spokesman suggested Mr Austin should stand down and call a by-election in his West Midlands seat, which he won by only 22 votes in 2017. (BBC)
  • Michel Barnier says there is high chance of ‘accidental’ no-deal Brexit – Michel Barnier has said he is more concerned than ever after a week of talks with Theresa May and the British negotiators that has left Brussels fearing an accidental no-deal Brexit in five weeks. As the British prime minister heads to Egypt for an EU-Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, the bloc’s chief negotiator publicly said he believed there remained “a chance” of ratifying the deal. But he told a French radio channel: “Today I am more worried than before” over the talks, adding that the UK needed to make decisions fast. The EU official also told ambassadors privately, after the negotiations with the UK’s Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, and a visit by May to Brussels, that the chances of an “accidental” no-deal Brexit were high. (The Guardian)
  • Ireland publishes emergency laws to cope with no-deal Brexit – Dublin has published a set of emergency laws to confront a no-deal Brexit, warning that failure in exit talks with the UK would lead to a “lose, lose, lose” scenario for Britain, the EU and Ireland. The sprawling package includes measures that would empower Dublin to rescue stricken companies as well as maintain financial markets settlements, insurance contracts and “all island” electricity supplies over the Northern Ireland border. But the bill itself is silent on the central issue of what would happen at the border if Britain leaves the EU on the scheduled date of March 29 without an accord with Brussels. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar insists his government has not developed plans, even if there is no deal, to reinstate checks that were removed after the 1998 Good Friday peace pact. (FT)
  • EU rules out Brexit ‘deal in the desert’ on upcoming Theresa May summit trip – Brussels has ruled out striking a “deal in the desert” when Theresa May heads to a summit of European and Arab leaders this weekend. A senior EU official confirmed its Council President Donald Tusk will meet the prime minister on the fringes of an event in the luxury Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh. Mrs May was hoping to secure a breakthrough on the Brexit impasse during the 5,000-mile round trip this Sunday. But the EU official ruled out any “deal in the desert”, because it is an EU-League of Arab States summit, not all the EU member states will be there, and it does not want to. “This is a very serious issue and it has to be prepared very seriously,” they said. “It’s very clear that there’ll be no EU session on Brexit in Sharm el Sheikh.” Mrs May’s sit-down with Mr Tusk is her only confirmed bilateral on the trip so far. (Sky News)
  • Theresa May must go in three months, cabinet ministers say Cabinet ministers will make it clear they believe Theresa May should step down after the local elections in May and allow a new leader to deliver the next phase of the Brexit negotiations, the Guardian understands. Senior figures in government have suggested they want the prime minister to leave shortly after the first phase of the Brexit negotiations finishes – or risk being defeated in a vote of no confidence at the end of the year. May wants to stay in place for long enough after Brexit to secure a political legacy beyond the fraught negotiations. But some ministers believe she should announce the timeline for her departure “on a high” after the local election results, paving the way for a Conservative leadership contest over the summer. Brexiters in the cabinet are keen to see a new leader take over for the next stage of the negotiations with the EU, which May has already pledged will involve more active involvement for politicians rather than advisers. (The Guardian)
  • No-deal Brexit risks Eurostar chaos at St Pancras, says report – Queues for Eurostar train services at London’s St Pancras International could reach up to 15,000 passengers each day in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a confidential report drawn up by the British government. The Department for Transport analysis, seen by the Financial Times, says a daily queue of that length could develop if Britain crashes out of the EU and France subjects UK and non-EU passengers at St Pancras to rigorous passport checks. According to one government insider familiar with the DfT report and its worst-case scenario, a queue of 15,000 people would stretch for almost one mile along the Euston Road, from St Pancras to Warren Street underground station. (FT)
  • UK driving licences will not be valid in Ireland under no-deal Brexit – Ireland will no longer recognise the UK driving licences of people living in Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Road Safety Authority of Ireland, a state agency, said this week a mutual recognition agreement would end and that holders of British licences would need to swap them for Irish licences before the UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March. “In the event of a no-deal Brexit the driving licence of a UK licence holder living here in Ireland will not be recognised and the driver will not be able to continue to drive here in Ireland on that licence,” the National Driver Licence Service, which issues permits, said in a statement. “The advice to such drivers is that they should exchange their UK driving licence for an Irish driving licence before the 29 March 2019. Under current arrangements a UK licence holder resident here in Ireland has an entitlement to make such an exchange.” (The Guardian)