Brexit: MPs continue European Union withdrawal deal debate

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British MPs on Wednesday begin five days of debate ahead of a historic delayed vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, a day after giving her a stinging blow aimed at preventing the country from crashing out of the European Union with no agreement.

And Downing Street said it was "very surprised" by the Speaker's decision, as it had been advised the motion setting out the timeline for events was unamendable.

Nevertheless the vote will be seen as another blow to Mrs May's authority as she struggles to win support for her Withdrawal Agreement. "We have always said that it's a matter of when, not if we table a motion of no-confidence, and we'll judge the timing day by day".

With less than three months before Britain is due to leave the European Union, parliament kicked off a five-day battle over May's Brexit plan with a show of force - undermining her preferred timetable if lawmakers vote down her deal on Tuesday.

The Government would remain under an global obligation to keep the border open, and it is understood ministers would be expected to seek alternative arrangements, possibly involving the use of new technology, within the 12-month deadline.

The amendment passed through the House of Commons 308-297 and was submitted by Dominic Grieve, the Tory MP and former attorney general.

David Lidington, May's effective deputy, called the House of Commons defeat "inconvenient" yet ineffectual and insisted the government remained focused on winning approval for the prime minister's plan.

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The amendment put forward Wednesday by Grieve was supported by former Tory ministers Sir Oliver Letwin, Jo Johnson (the brother of hard Brexiteer and former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson) Guto Bebb and Sam Gyimah.

His remarks came after Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom criticised his handling of proceedings, which came to a head over the Brexit Plan B process.

He urged MPs from across to House to back the motion of no confidence in the Government which Labour would table "at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success".

Referring to reports shadow global trade secretary Barry Gardiner had described Labour's official Brexit position in the same way, Mr Gove said: "I know, Mr Speaker, there are some distinguished citizens in this country who have put on their cars a poster or sticker saying bollocks to Brexit".

'That is what I have tried to do and what I will go on doing'.

'I think that is something that we would regret for many, many generations'.

MPs returned to Westminster Monday after the festive and new year break, and will resume debate on the Brexit bill on Wednesday, with the crucial vote expected in the early part of the following week.

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Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Mr Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, was asked directly about what the party's stance would be if a general election was to be called.

"And every effort I think needs to be made between now and Tuesday, Tuesday afternoon perhaps, to ensure this important issue can be resolved satisfactorily".

"For many of us we will now have an unshakeable conviction that the referee of our affairs ... is no longer neutral", he said.

"But we now know from Labour's own front bench that their official Brexit position is bollocks".

It was the second setback in as many days for the prime minister, after MPs voted late Tuesday to deny the government certain taxation powers in a no-deal scenario - another attempt to avoid such an outcome.

Mrs May retorted: "The only way to avoid no-deal is to vote for the deal".

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