Brexit: Sturgeon steps up no-deal planning

Theresa May in Brussels More

In parliament on Wednesday, May sought to play down the significance of those comments when asked about them by one of her lawmakers, saying her government's strategy of leaving with a deal on March 29 had not changed.

Comments by May's chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, overheard by an ITV correspondent at a hotel bar in Brussels have done little to boost trust among lawmakers.

MPs are to debate and vote on the next steps in the Brexit process later, as Theresa May continues to try to get a deal through Parliament. "If the PM decides we are leaving on March 29, deal or no deal, that will happen", he said.

May also hinted that a provision in the UK's Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, which dictates that global treaties must sit for 21 days of parliamentary sittings before they can be ratified, would be waived to give her government more time to broker an acceptable deal with the EU.

"It is the only way of giving the House of Commons the time to produce a consensus about a positive way forward if the PM can not get her deal through by mid-March".

"We want to leave with a deal, and that's what we're working for".

They are due to vote again on the Brexit process on Thursday and the SNP have tabled a Commons amendment requiring the UK Government to begin immediate negotiations with the European Council to extend Article 50 by no less than three months.

French wine and spirits exporters say they are "in the total fog" over Brexit.

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set out five conditions for his party's backing of the prime minister's withdrawal agreement.

"I agree that the longer this goes on, the more risky it gets, obviously", Stewart said.

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In a statement updating the Commons on progress in talks, Mrs May acknowledged she would need "some time" to seek legally-binding changes from the European Union to the controversial backstop for the Irish border.

The move points to deep splits within Labour over Brexit.

"I have said in the last few weeks that in reality for the Labour party the only credible options now left are a close economic relationship - that's the sort of relationship we spelt out in the letter to the Prime Minister last week - or a public vote".

Veteran Tory Europhile Kenneth Clarke has tabled a further amendment, backed by senior figures from across the House including Harriet Harman, which would allow MPs to vote for their preferred Brexit outcome.

Robbins reportedly suggested that MPs will be served an ultimatum in March: either accept UK Prime Minister Theresa May's deal, or expect a long extension to Article 50.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve warned on Tuesday that time was running short for the ratification of a deal under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

Downing Street insisted by the time the 21-day period to consider the Brexit treaty kicked in, MPs would already have passed judgment on it in the "meaningful vote" and the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

"She's determined to try and avoid a no-deal Brexit if she can, because she recognizes in talking to business that this could be very damaging for the United Kingdom economy and ergo jobs", Tony Smurfit, chief executive of Irish packaging group Smurfit Kappa, told Reuters.

MEPs, meanwhile, are to vote today on laws to prevent disruption for airlines and hauliers in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

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