UK and the UN
UNA-UK has stated that the recent attempts by a number of individuals to cross the channel in dangerous open boats has highlighted the need for an international approach to shared issues such as irregular migration.
Evaluation of UK’s international obligations
Charities have criticised the Government for making women “pay for their protection” following findings that the Foreign Office is seeking to recoup the cost of repatriating young women who have been forced into marriages overseas. Following the reporting of this issue Jeremy Hunt scrapped the repatriation fees.
Refugee charities have urged the UK home secretary to use more compassionate language as Sajid Javid has suggested that asylum seekers should be deterred from crossing the Channel by making it harder to gain asylum, a right enshrined in international law.
Amnesty International has condemned the verdict against 15 anti-deportation activists in the “Stansted 15” case, arguing that the terrorism-related charges laid show that the UK authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU
Theresa May has made another desperate plea to EU leaders to offer a concession on the Irish backstop as she attempts to win over Brexiters who have vowed to vote down the Government’s deal, and has held fresh talks with Jean-Claude Juncker. The prime minister has warned that such Brexiters are ‘risking democracy’. Meanwhile Germany’s foreign affairs minister is to fly to Dublin on Tuesday for Brexit talks as relations with Ireland intensify in an attempt to find a “fix” that will help Theresa May get the EU withdrawal agreement ratified.
However Chris Patten, the former Conservative party chairman, is to declare support for a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
MPs are expected to hold their crucial vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal next Tuesday, with Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng insisting the Government still expects to win the support of parliament, despite intense pressure from both sides of the argument. Meanwhile the EU is likely to offer Theresa May an “exchange of letters” confirming the bloc’s intention to conclude trade talks with the UK by 2021, as Brussels seeks to help the prime minister in the run-up to next week’s Commons vote on her deal.
A live rehearsal of an emergency traffic system that will be put in place to prevent congestion in Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit has been described as “a waste of time” by drivers participating in the test in Kent as, under contingency plans it will be used as a lorry park for 6,000 lorries, but only 87 trucks participated.
Boris Johnson has claimed that a no-deal Brexit is the “closest to what people voted for” when they went to the polls in the 2016 EU referendum. However, more than 200 MPs from across the political divide have urged Theresa May to rule out plunging over the “cliff-edge” of a no-deal Brexit. Meanwhile business minister Richard Harrington has stated that he would quit the Government to stop Britain leaving the EU without a deal. Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said history will take “a dim view” of ministers if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, whilst Business Secretary Greg Clark has also told MPs a no-deal exit in March “should not be contemplated”.
The Financial Times has argued that, with fewer than 100 days to go until the Brexit date of 29 March 2019, the likelihood of delay — and of an extension to the art 50 notification process — is on the rise. Meanwhile The Telegraph reports that British and European officials are discussing the possibility of such an extension to art 50.
Labour will join forces with rebel Tory MPs in a bid to force the Government to publish any updated legal advice on its Brexit deal.
Defeating the Government 303 to 296, MPs backed moves to limit the Treasury’s ability to raise taxes in the event of a no-deal Brexit, demonstrating that there is a Commons majority against a no-deal Brexit.
Speaker, John Bercow, allowed MPs to debate an amendment that would force Theresa May to present a new Brexit plan within three days if her current proposal is voted down in the meaningful vote, and the Government was defeated by 11 votes on this. This has, however, led to John Bercow being forced to deny anti-Brexit bias.
The Guardian has publically come out in support of a second referendum.
A raft of multi-million pound Government contracts with consultancy firms on Brexit planning are to be investigated after ministers were criticised for keeping them a “secret”.
Theresa May is to make a last-ditch effort to save her Brexit deal by backing guarantees on workers’ and environmental rights demanded by Labour MPs and appealing to the leaders of the UK’s most powerful unions, Unite and GMB. She is also to offer MPs a veto over the NI backstop.
Downing Street has said that if Theresa May’s deal is voted down, any debate over a Brexit plan B would be 90 minutes long and only one amendment would be allowed.
Jeremy Corbyn has conceded that Labour might need to seek an extension of art 50 if the party won a snap election, to negotiate a new Brexit deal, confirming that his party’s priority is a new deal, rather than a referendum.
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker is collecting support for a suggested written ministerial statement for the Government, which its backers believe would be a pathway to better withdrawal terms and an independent trade policy.
Stepping up pressure on Eurosceptic Tory MPs, Jeremy Hunt has warned of the potential ‘paralysis’ of Parliament if they fail to vote in favour of May’s deal. Meanwhile the Financial Times has considered the views of eight former foreign secretaries in their opinions of where Britain should go post-Brexit.