MPs vote (BBC)

  • MPs have voted on a series of alternative Brexit options after MPs voted to take control of today’s parliamentary business.
  • The Speaker selected eight options, including leaving without a deal, a customs union and a confirmatory referendum.
  • None of the MPs’ eight proposed options for Brexit have secured clear backing follow the Commons vote.
  • MPs voted on a statutory instrument to confirm a delay, after the UK was given until 12 April to propose a different way forward if the current agreement cannot get through Parliament and until 22 May to finalise Brexit if the deal is passed.
  • MPs’ approved the Brexit date change.

Theresa May vows to stand down after deal is passed (BBC)

  • She told backbench Tories: “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”
  • The PM gives no specific date for her departure.
  • The PM said she knew that Tory MPs did not want her to lead the next phase of Brexit negotiations “and I won’t stand in the way of that”.
  • “I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty – to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.”
  • The PM has said she wants to bring the deal back to the Commons this week, after it was previously rejected twice, by large margins.
  • Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled last week that the government could not return for a third attempt, unless there had been “substantial” changes to the proposals.

Theresa May looks to unblock Brexit by cutting deal in half (FT)

  • Theresa May is considering a dramatic move to bypass a blockade on her Brexit plan by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, by splitting her deal in two and presenting only one half to MPs for a vote.
  • The prime minister is looking at holding a vote only on the 585-page draft withdrawal treaty — the legally binding divorce agreement with the EU— while spinning off the 26-page non-binding political declaration on future relations with the bloc.
  • The downside for Mrs May of a strategy to split her deal in half is that under the 2018 EU Withdrawal Act MPs must approve the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU in a “meaningful vote” covering both the withdrawal treaty and political declaration.
  • But some ministers have argued that this problem could be circumvented by a change in the law. “That could be contained in the withdrawal agreement bill,” said one minister, referring to new legislation which must be tabled to complete Brexit.

Switzerland likely to seek information-sharing deal with UK after Brexit (MLex)

  • Switzerland’s competition watchdog wants to share confidential information with UK enforcers after Brexit, and this could help prosecute probes into the financial industry.
  • Olivier Schaller, vice-director of the Swiss agency, said he already had initial contacts with the Competition and Markets Authority about future arrangements.

Tensions emerge between Dublin and Brussels over Irish border (FT)

  • Strains are emerging between Dublin and Brussels over the future of the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with no plans published to deal with a break from the EU that could come in less than three weeks.
  • The EU made clear again this week that there had to be checks on cross-border trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland if Britain exits without a deal, which could take place as soon as April 12.
  • Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, wants to avoid border checks for fear of undermining the Good Friday peace pact that settled three decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
  • The Good Friday Agreement called for open frontiers but the European Commission is adamant that “disruptions” to cross-border trade are inevitable if the UK crashes out of the bloc without an agreement to protect the single market.