UK should hold second Brexit referendum, Tony Blair says

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he believes the UK should hold a second Brexit referendum to break the political impasse on the issue. Blair, who was Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007, said he believed there would soon be a majority in the UK Parliament for a new vote.May's Brexit deal is … Continue reading “UK should hold second Brexit referendum, Tony Blair says”

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he believes the UK should hold a second Brexit referendum to break the political impasse on the issue.

Blair, who was Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007, said he believed there would soon be a majority in the UK Parliament for a new vote.May's Brexit deal is dead on arrival. Now what?Blair’s intervention came as Prime Minister Theresa May ended a punishing week — in which she pulled a vote on her Brexit deal from the UK House of Commons and survived a confidence vote brought by her own party — with a largely fruitless trip to Brussels and little sign that she would ever be able to win parliamentary backing for the deal.

    Speaking at a People’s Vote event in London, Blair argued that going back to the British people in a second referendum was the proper thing to do now that people better understood what was at stake — and that this would bring the country the “closure” it craves, rather than disunity.”What seemed a few months ago unlikely is now I would say above a 50% likelihood. We will go back to the people. Ultimately, this could even make sense to the PM, who could perfectly legitimately say, ‘I did my best, my deal was rejected by Parliament, and you the people must give direction that Parliament cannot,'” he said in his address.Read MoreBrexit will weaken Europe, isolate Britain and fuel global tensionsPolling indicates that support for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal — as promoted by the People’s Vote campaign — is growing, Blair said, at the same time as support for the original decision to leave has fallen.”Given all that has happened, the undemocratic thing is to deny people a final say,” he said.”In a new referendum both sides will be able to make their case in the context of the experience of the Brexit negotiation, and what we have learned through it. Who can seriously argue that we do not know more today than in June 2016?”On BBC Radio earlier, Blair said he believed a majority of MPs in the UK Parliament would soon support a second vote.In his speech, Blair also urged European leaders to prepare for the possibility of a second referendum and to show that it understood the concerns of British citizens and wanted them to remain, rather than being “passive spectators” to the Brexit debate.”We are now entering a new phase of Brexit. Government has lost the initiative. Parliament has taken it. We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can’t then it should decide to go back to the people,” he said.

      Whether and how a “people’s vote” could be held, particularly given that the clock is ticking down fast on the UK’s March 29, 2019 departure from the European Union, is far from clear.May has repeatedly ruled out the prospect of a second referendum and the leadership of the opposition Labour Party has been non-committal on the subject.

Britain sees surge in far-right activity flagged to its anti-terrorism program

The number of people flagged to Britain’s counter-extremism program on suspicion of far-right activity has increased by more than one third, figures released Thursday showed.

Data from the Home Office’s Prevent program, a central plank of Britain’s strategy to combat terrorism, showed a 36% uptick in the number of referrals of people at risk of involvement in far-right activity (1,312 people) between April 2017 and March 2018, compared with the same period the year before.The largest proportion of those referrals were young people between the ages of 15 and 20.

    Referrals related to suspected Islamic extremism made up the bulk of cases (3,197 people, or 44% of referrals), but this figure represents a 14% fall from the year before. “The figures released today show Prevent is tackling the threat from radicalisation wherever it is found, including from the rise in the right-wing extremism,” Security Minister Ben Wallace said in a statement. Read More”Through the Prevent and Channel programme, people who are vulnerable to radicalisation have received the support they need to turn their lives around which has also helped keep our communities safe,” Wallace said. British advocacy group Hope Not Hate told CNN that the figures underline its warning about far-right activism coming via social media — and beyond the usual confines of traditional organizational structures — which is “more committed to violence, radicalizing the young with much the same methods as once used by Islamist militants.” The Prevent program obliges the public sector to root out extremism online and in person. Public-sector workers in schools and hospitals are legally required to report at-risk individuals. The program has been criticized for creating an atmosphere of distrust in the Muslim community. Once an at-risk individual has been identified, the police or local authority decide whether they are suitable for referral to Prevent’s anti-radicalization program — known as Channel — where they receive mentoring and counseling. The Home Office found, for the first time, a similar number of people received Channel support for far-right extremism to the number referred for Islamic extremism. “Of the 394 individuals who received Channel support, 179 (45%) were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism and 174 (44%) were referred for concerns related to right-wing extremism,” the report said. In total, there were 7,318 referrals to Prevent — an increase of 20% compared with the year before. The breakdown is 44% for Islamist extremism worries, 18% for right-wing suspicion and the remainder for other extremism or “mixed, unstable or unclear ideology.”In a statement to CNN, the National Police Chiefs’ Council linked the uptick to “the five terrorist attacks that took place in London and Manchester” in 2017. That period saw Islamic extremist Salman Abedi detonate a device in the lobby of an Ariana Grande concert, a van being driven into pedestrians in London Bridge and Darren Osborne plow his vehicle into a crowded sidewalk outside Finsbury Park Mosque in London. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told lawmakers in October that far-right extremism and Islamic extremism “feed each other””The overriding threat to the UK remains from those inspired by Isis and the resurgent al-Qaeda, but our operations reflect a much broader range of dangerous ideologies, including very disturbingly rising extreme right-wing activity,” he said at the time.

      Zubeda Limbada from Connect Futures, an outreach organization that tackles radicalization and extremism, agreed with that analysis.”We are not saying one is worse than another, we see similarities in recruitment and narrative of ‘otherising,'” she told CNN. “It is about ‘someone else is different and you need to join my gang.'”

Adele and Stormzy appear in emotional Grenfell Tower survivors video

Music stars Adele and Stormzy have backed survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire in London in their appeal for “dangerous cladding” to be removed from buildings across the UK.

On December 13, survivors group Grenfell United released a video — which features multi-million-selling singer Adele, rapper Stormzy, the lead singer of Mumford & Sons, Marcus Mumford, and social activist Akala — pressing the British government to reform the housing system.Stormzy opens the powerful film with the line, “This isn’t a charity film, this is a clarity film.”

    Then a number of survivors and families bereaved by the Grenfell disaster, which killed 72 people in June 2017, talk about its effects on their lives.”We are not asking for money, we are not asking for sympathy, we are demanding change,” they say.Read More”Change so families up and down the country are safe in their homes. Change so that people, no matter where they live, are treated with dignity and respect.”Critics are angry because the Grenfell Tower review doesn't call for cladding banThere are 441 buildings that are still covered in “dangerous Grenfell-style cladding,” according to the video, which was also tweeted by Manchester City soccer player Raheem Sterling.The combustible cladding used in the construction of Grenfell Tower has been blamed for contributing to the fire.Survivors have become frustrated by an alleged lack of progress in reforming the housing system in the wake of the tragedy.Grenfell United wants the government to form a new regulatory body that would oversee social housing and remove flammable cladding from buildings.”We are approaching the second Christmas since our loved ones died at Grenfell, but we’ve seen little change on the ground and people around the country are still living in buildings with dangerous cladding,” Karim Mussilhy, vice-chair of Grenfell United, said in a statement.Grenfell fire inquiry opens with emotional tribute to baby”Too often, people in social housing are treated with indifference by people who have a duty to care for them,” said Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the fire.”Dangerous cladding needs to be taken off buildings and we need a new regulator for social housing to reform the system so people are listened to and treated with respect.”The video was released to mark the end of the first stage of a public inquiry into the fire.

      “The Grenfell Inquiry has already shown beyond doubt that our families were neglected, ignored and given cheap materials that turned their homes into a death trap,” said Mussilhy.”Seventy-two people were unlawfully killed and people across the country are still living in unsafe buildings, change cannot wait.”

No-deal Brexit looks likelier than ever after May’s summit humiliation

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to save her faltering Brexit deal ended in acrimony Friday, as EU leaders sent her away empty-handed and a leading official denounced her plans as “nebulous.”

After being forced to pull a vote on her deal in the House of Commons, May pleaded with EU leaders to bolt on legal assurances that would assuage lawmakers furious over a crucial element, the so-called Irish backstop.Brexit: Why is the Irish border 'backstop' such a big deal?But after an apparently lackluster presentation by May, EU leaders rejected the demands — all but killing any hope of a parliamentary breakthrough in London — and instead stepped up plans for a no-deal Brexit.

    In a late-night press conference, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was withering. “Our UK friends need to say what they want, rather than asking what we want,” he told reporters. “We would like in a few weeks for our UK friends to set out their expectations because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise and I would like clarifications.”While he said May had been “fighting hard and bravely,” he expressed doubt that any deal would get through the British Parliament in its current form. Read MoreAt a news conference Friday, May also acknowledged that members of Parliament “will require more assurances” than she has been able to wring from fellow EU leaders so far and said she would be “holding talks in the coming days” in pursuit of those.But she also insisted that both sides want to make it work, and said the conclusions issued by the other 27 EU leaders Thursday night were welcome and “take us forward.”Brexit will weaken Europe, isolate Britain and fuel global tensions”I note that there has been reporting that the EU is not willing to consider any further clarification,” she said. “The EU is clear, as I am, that if we are going to leave with a deal, this is it. But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the council’s conclusions is in fact possible.”May added that the EU had given its clearest statement yet that it had no intention of the backstop ever being necessary; that if it were necessary, it would be temporary; and that the EU was ready to work quickly with the United Kingdom to establish their future relationship.”It is in the overwhelming interests of the EU and UK to get this over the line,” May said. “A disorderly Brexit is good for no one.”The Prime Minister also insisted that she had been “crystal clear about the assurances which are needed on the backstop” by Brtish MPs — an apparent rebuff of Juncker’s characterization of the British position as “nebulous.” Asked about an apparently frosty exchange between herself and Juncker, May said they had had a “robust” discussion and that Juncker had made clear the phrase referred to the “general level of debate.”

    May’s plea to EU leaders

    Addressing EU leaders Thursday, May had urged them to provide guarantees on the Irish backstop, an insurance policy designed to avoid the return of customs posts on the Irish border. “We have to change the perception that the backstop could be a trap from which the UK could not escape,” May told EU leaders, according to Downing Street.She urged them to “trust me to do what is right,” Downing Street said, saying it was in no-one’s interests to “run the risk of an accidental ‘no-deal’ with all the disruption that would bring.”May put forward a two-stage process — a political declaration now, and a legally binding assurance in January, an EU diplomat told CNN.But her plans did not go down well. Leaders were looking for two things from May yesterday: a concrete proposal to break the impasse and assurance that she could get it over the line in Parliament. They got neither, the diplomat said.After May’s presentation, said to have been short on specifics, the final text of the summit’s conclusions was changed to cut a suggestion that the EU consider what further assurances could be provided to the UK, another EU diplomat said. A reference to contingency preparations for a no-deal exit was left intact.May failed to convince EU leaders to offer her a lifeline after a bruising no confidence vote this week. Some EU leaders urged British lawmakers directly to face up to their responsibilities. “Now MPs in London should be responsible and to know if they want to have the best possible deal, or to go in a direction where they don’t know what will come out, ” said Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg Prime Minister.”They should think about the interests of their voters, and of the people in their country, and if they respect that, they should vote for it,” he said.German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also effectively put the ball in London’s court. “As far as the EU is concerned we’ll be doing everything in our power but we’ll be expecting the United Kingdom to do everything in their power to make this happen,” Merkel said in her closing remarks.”There are a lot of concerns and fantasies around the backstop,” Macron said. “What comes next is in the hands of the British Parliament.”Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, who has been a key ally of the British Prime Minister, attempted to put a positive gloss on the outcome. “We told Theresa May once again that we will not open or reopen the withdrawal agreement, but besides the withdrawal agreement there is a huge understanding of both sides and a wish to find a way to deal with Brexit,” he said.In London, the opposition Labour Party called for May to reschedule the delayed Brexit vote in Parliament before Christmas. “The last 24 hours have shown that Theresa May’s Brexit deal is dead in the water,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “She’s failed to deliver any meaningful changes. Rather than ploughing ahead and recklessly running down the clock, she needs to put her deal to a vote next week so Parliament can take back control.”

    Breaking the impasse?

    Events of the past few months have solidified May’s reputation as a political survivor. But the decision to call off the Brexit vote in parliament, followed by a no-confidence vote in which a third of her MPs registered their disapproval of her leadership, have left May seriously weakened.Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote but her Brexit deal is still in perilWith just over 100 days before the March 29 Brexit deadline, and precious little time to negotiate a new deal should the current one be voted down, even if the EU wanted to.Labour and other opposition parties have pledged to call for a vote of no-confidence in the government, should May’s bill be defeated. That could lead to a general election.Following the defeated Conservative leadership challenge this week, the math may be in their favor. May’s critics within her own party are stuck with her through the Brexit process — the failure to win this week’s confidence vote means they can’t launch another challenge for 12 months.The only other option for May would be to call a second Brexit referendum. That would require her to reverse her implacable opposition to such a move — although it would not be her first big policy U-turn.

      After Wednesday’s vote on her leadership, May told reporters she was ready to “get on with the job of delivering Brexit.” Less than 48 hours later, she’s looking more stuck than ever. This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the Austrian chancellor’s name and the number of days until the Brexit deadline.

Theresa May is here for now. And so is her Brexit headache

So it’s come to this: put up or shut up.

Conservative Party lawmakers have decided to keep Theresa May in office after a vote of no confidence was triggered by (at least) 15% of her own MPs. It might have cost her offering her own head — to placate her rebels, she has agreed she will not lead her party into the next general election, currently slated for 2022. But this victory (and it is a victory) protects her from another leadership challenge for 12 months. This means that unless something dramatic happens — and that can’t be ruled out — May is all but certain to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on March 29, 2019, the day on which the country is formally scheduled to leave the European Union.

    Having had to delay the House of Commons vote on her deal with the EU earlier this week, amid predictions of a heavy defeat, this leaves Brexit in a strange position. Britain's Brexit chaos is here today, tomorrow and probably for all of 2019May’s deal had insufficient support of many of her own MPs for wide-ranging reasons, but mainly because of the Irish border backstop keeping the UK temporarily in a customs union to avoid a hard border with the Republic. These lawmakers say that without significant changes or a total scrapping of the backstop, they cannot vote with the government. Read MoreWithout the support of her MPs — or of MPs from other parties sympathetic to her deal — the PM was stuck between a rock and a hard place: an EU unwilling to reopen negotiations on the deal and a House of Commons unwilling to accept that agreement with the EU. Crude maths suggest that even if we recalculate the numbers based on Wednesday night’s vote, she still doesn’t have the support to take her deal through the Commons. And that’s before we even start thinking about the prospect of a motion of no confidence in her government in the House of Commons, which could be put forward by the opposition Labour Party. So we come back to put up or shut up. Conservative rebels have tried to remove her through the formal process. If they continue to resist May and vote against her in the Commons, it seems inconceivable that she can carry on governing. Then, the prospect of the UK stumbling into a no-deal Brexit looks more likely than ever. That could mean, according to several analysts, food shortages, grounded flights, people being left without medicine and catastrophic economic fluctuations. This is the hand that May must now play with her backbenchers. However much they hate her deal, it at least guarantees the economy will not fall off a cliff and that life in the UK can go on as is for the foreseeable future while the UK and EU work out what comes next. The contenders to replace UK Prime Minister Theresa May The rebels will continue to argue that May needs to press the EU harder, as it’s just as important to Brussels that this doesn’t end in disaster as it is to the UK. And she gets her chance to do exactly this on Thursday, as she travels to Brussels for a summit with the assorted leaders of EU governments. So goes their argument, May can at this point say unequivocally to the EU that their deal is simply not one that will pass in parliament, so now is the time to reopen negotiations. If they refuse, the UK will simply walk away, taking with it the trade surplus the EU enjoys with the UK and the £39 billion ($49 billion) divorce settlement that the EU sorely needs to plug the gaps in its budget.

      Both arguments are compelling — if terrifying — and it remains to be seen if either side is willing to blink. Right now, nothing is certain, other than the fact that the Brexit headache will not end for a very long time. Let’s hope we have enough painkillers to get through it.

Brexit: Why is the Irish border ‘backstop’ such a big deal?

One of the big fears in the Brexit debate is that Britain’s departure from the EU will mean the reintroduction of border posts on the frontier between Northern Ireland, which remains part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

Border infrastructure was often targeted by Irish nationalist paramilitaries during the “Troubles” — the 40-year sectarian conflict in which more than 3,500 people died.The issue of the border status is already reigniting passions in Northern Ireland.UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal avoids the reintroduction of a so-called “hard” Irish border, because of the built-in transition period that keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU.

    The problems come if there’s no agreement on what to do after the transition period ends in 2020. Enter the Irish “backstop,” an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border if no other solution to police the border are found by that time.This has infuriated hard-line Brexiteers, worried the UK will never “properly” leave the bloc. They want to be free of the customs union, in order to forge international trade deals that would require the UK to be free of EU regulations on issues like agriculture, fisheries, food standards and the environment.Read MoreThe non-Brits guide to Brexit (because it affects you too)The Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs prop up May’s minority government in London, also demands a clean break with the EU, and oppose any move to give Northern Ireland different status from mainland Britain.

      The crucial sticking point is that the Brexit deal, as it stands, states that neither side can leave the backstop unilaterally. Brexiteers hate the idea that the EU would hold a power of veto over the UK — and the backstop may never end.But others, including the Irish government, argue that the backstop would be meaningless if Britain could tear it up at will. But there is little sign that EU leaders will make any concessions to May on the deal substantial enough to win over her critics at home.

Wounded May seeks Brexit lifeline from EU leaders

European Union leaders will discuss how much of a lifeline to throw to UK Prime Minister Theresa May over her imperiled Brexit deal Thursday, after she survived a bruising confidence motion triggered by members of her own party.

Leaving Westminster convulsed by the crisis over her leadership, May came to Brussels to plead with EU leaders at a summit to make the agreement more palatable to skeptical lawmakers in London.As she arrived, May said she was there to speak with EU leaders about what it will take to “get this deal over the line.”

    EU officials have already been discussing what can be done to reassure UK parliamentarians, who remain deeply divided over the agreement reached last month between the EU and UK government. May was forced to pull a vote on the deal in the House of Commons earlier this week when it became clear she would suffer a heavy defeat.The Prime Minister is seeking legally enforceable guarantees surrounding the Irish backstop — the insurance policy designed to prevent the return of border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The backstop has emerged as the crucial sticking point for many in May’s Conservative Party, furious that Britain could only leave it with the approval of the EU.UK Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday.Read MoreBut EU leaders have been united so far in saying that negotiations cannot be reopened on the withdrawal deal, making it unclear what concrete concessions May can hope to take back with her to London.May is now expected to speak at the end of the summit’s afternoon session and will be able to take questions from other leaders, Downing Street said. The 27 will then discuss Brexit over dinner, when May was previously expected to make her case.May told reporters in Brussels she would be seeking the political assurances needed “to assuage the concerns that Members of Parliament have on this issue — (the backstop).””I don’t expect an immediate breakthrough, but what I do hope is that we can start work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary,” she added.The Prime Minister also acknowledged that both the UK and EU were planning for a no-deal Brexit. “But I think, as I’ve always said, that the best arrangement for everybody, both the UK and the EU, is for us to agree a deal and get this deal over the line,” she said.As part of her shuttle diplomacy, May met with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and European Council President Donald Tusk before the summit began.Theresa May is here for now. And so is her Brexit headacheWhile May won Wednesday’s confidence vote, by 200 votes to 117, the margin of victory was significantly narrower than her supporters expected and she arrived in Brussels with her authority further dented.An EU diplomat told CNN that the other 27 EU nations were looking to May to “convince” them she can get the withdrawal agreement through the UK Parliament.”We’ve seen what happened yesterday. Convince us that what you ask will make a difference. If she pulls that off then we can talk… in the end they are politicians and they will want to help her. We are ready to be convinced,” the diplomat said. The 27 are “expecting serious clarification of what she [Theresa May] plans to do,” the source said, but for now, May appears to be “playing for time” in the hopes that uncertainty will win over the lawmakers she needs to back her deal.The diplomat added that they are very concerned about an accidental hard Brexit, saying the “most likely scenario is stumbling into a no deal.”

    Europeans hold firm

    Arriving in Brussels, EU leaders suggested they could offer greater clarity around the deal — but there was little sign they would make changes substantial enough to win over May’s critics at home.Why is the Irish border backstop such a big issue?

    One of the big fears in the Brexit debate is that Britain’s departure from the EU will mean the reintroduction of border posts on the frontier between Northern Ireland, which remains part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

    Border infrastructure was often targeted by Irish nationalist paramilitaries during the “Troubles” — the 40-year sectarian conflict in which more than 3,500 people died.

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal avoids the reintroduction of a so-called “hard” border, because of the built-in transition period that keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU.

    The problems come if there’s no agreement on what to do after the transition period ends in 2020. Enter the Irish “backstop,” an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border if no other solutions are found by that time.

    This has infuriated hard-line Brexiteers, worried the UK will never “properly” leave the bloc. They want to be free of the customs union, in order to forge international trade deals that would require the UK to be free of EU regulations on issues like agriculture, fisheries, food standards and the environment.

    The Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs prop up May’s minority government in London, also demands a clean break with the EU, and oppose any move to give Northern Ireland different status from mainland Britain.

    The big sticking point is that the Brexit deal, as it stands, states that neither side can leave the backstop unilaterally. Brexiteers hate the idea that the EU would hold a power of veto over the UK.

    But others, including the Irish government, argue that the backstop would be meaningless if Britain could tear it up at will.

    “The thing now tonight is we have to seek clarifications, particularly on the backstop,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “There is this whole thinking in the UK that this backstop is inevitable, that it will be triggered. I can assure you one thing, there is nobody in their right mind in the European Union who wants to trigger the backstop because this is bad news not only for the UK but also for the EU.”Rutte added that it would be “impossible to break open” the withdrawal agreement, saying: “This is the only deal possible on the table.”Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, echoed that message. “The deal we already have is a good one. I think there is also an understanding from Theresa May that there will be no new negotiation of the withdrawal agreement,” he said. “But, of course … I think there will be some readiness from our side to maybe find some better explanation about the future relationship … There is also some room to have a better interpretation of what we agreed on.”French President Emmanuel Macron also rejected any renegotiation of the deal. “There can be a political discussion, but not a legal one,” he said. “It is up to Theresa May to say what the political solution is to get a majority on this agreement.” In an interview earlier Thursday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was relieved May was staying in office “because at least this has averted total chaos.” But asked about the backstop, Maas said it was “already a concession, as it has been agreed. What the British now want is for it to be limited in time or for it to be unilaterally terminable by the British. That is a point which I find very difficult to imagine meeting with approval in the member states of the European Union.”Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, called for cross-party cooperation in the UK to resolve the crisis, saying that “while the Brexit deal is far from certain, one thing is clear: even in the Tory party, there is no majority for no deal or hard Brexit.”

    Backstop challenge

    The size of Wednesday’s rebellion underscored the daunting task faced by the Prime Minister if she is to secure approval in a divided House of Commons for her Brexit deal. Hardcore Brexiters’ opposition to the agreement has crystallized around the Northern Ireland backstop. Britain's Brexit chaos is here today, tomorrow and probably for all of 2019But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay insisted in an interview with the BBC’s Radio 4 on Thursday that any alternative deal to the one negotiated by May would also require a backstop on Northern Ireland. “And there’s a very good reason why they require a backstop, because of our commitment to ensuring there is no hard border in Ireland, our commitment to the peace process, those are very sincere commitments that we need to honor,” he told the program.May acknowledged that Wednesday had been “a difficult day” and said she was “grateful” for the support she’d received. “But I’ve also heard loud and clear the concerns of those who didn’t feel able to support me,” she said in Brussels.

      May also confirmed that she did not intend to lead her party indefinitely. “I said in my heart I would love to be able to lead the Conservative Party into the next general election, but I think it is right that the party feels it would prefer to go into that election with a new leader.”Conservative Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg, who led the rebellion against May, has urged her to resign, saying the country needs a new leader.

Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote but her Brexit deal is still in peril

UK Prime Minister Theresa May survived a vote of no-confidence triggered by members of her own party over her handling of Britain’s departure from the European Union, but her margin of victory was significantly narrower than her supporters expected.

May won by 200 votes to 117, meaning that a third of her parliamentary party failed to back her. The size of the rebellion underscored the daunting task faced by the Prime Minister if she is to secure approval in a divided House of Commons for her imperiled Brexit deal.Outside Downing Street, May admitted that it had been a “long and challenging day.”

    Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arriving to make a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London after winning a confidence vote on December 12.May said while she was “grateful” for the support, she also acknowledged that a “significant” number of number of MPs from her party voted against her. “I have listened to what they said,” May said, but added “we now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit.”She said she now had a “renewed mission — delivering the Brexit that people voted for, bringing the country back together and building a country that truly works for everyone.”Read MoreMay will travel to Brussels on Thursday for a meeting of European leaders. She will try to convince them that the only way to win backing for her deal is to give legally enforceable guarantees surrounding the Irish backstop — the insurance policy designed to prevent the return of border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.May said the Conservative Party must “now get on with the job of delivering Brexit.”Voting by secret ballot began at 6 p.m. (1 p.m. ET) Wednesday after May made her final pitch to lawmakers promising them she wouldn’t fight the next general election in 2022. A pro-May MP told CNN the Prime Minister “got a real grilling, but overall solid support” as she made her case to MPs.Britain's Brexit chaos is here today, tomorrow and probably for all of 2019The result gives her 12 months of breathing space from her own party, because Conservative Party rules state another such vote cannot be held for a year. But her supporters acknowledged that her authority was dented.Shortly after the announcement, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: “Huge congrats to Theresa May whose stamina, resilience and decency has again won the day and given her the chance to deliver Brexit for our country.”

    Huge congrats to @theresa_may whose stamina, resilience and decency has again won the day and given her the chance to deliver Brexit for our country

    — Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) December 12, 2018

    Chancellor Philip Hammond also tweeted and said Wednesday night’s result was “the right one.””Now is the the time to focus on the future,” he said. “Her deal means we will honor the referendum result while safeguarding jobs and maintaining business confidence.”May’s 83-vote margin of victory means more than a third of Conservative MPs voted against her as PM.Jacob Rees-Mogg — who led the rebellion against May — said the result was a “terrible” outcome for May. He added that “she ought to go and see the Queen urgently and resign.”Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks to the media next to Parliament in central London.Speaking outside Parliament, Conservative MP Stephen Crabb said May must now win over MPs who voted against her, which will be “hugely challenging.””It seems there isn’t a majority in the House of Commons at the moment for any solution to Brexit — not for a second referendum, not for a Norway-style deal, not for her deal,” Crabb said, according to Britain’s Press Association. “But Parliament has to say yes to something and she has been given a new mandate to get on and find that something.”Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “Her government is in chaos.” He added that May “must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control.(It's not just you) Brexit is making Britain very hard to understand right now”Labour is ready to govern for the whole country and deliver a deal that protects living standards and workers’ rights,” Corbyn said.The problem for May now, however, is that this result does not make the reality of her situation any more palatable.The biggest challenge she faces is that she is stuck between a UK Parliament that will not vote through her Brexit deal and the European Union, which will not reopen negotiations on that deal.

      The confidence vote coincided with May’s whistle-stop tour of Europe where she met with key EU leaders, asking them for help passing her Brexit deal through Parliament.May was forced to postpone a vote on the deal on Monday when it became clear her bill would face a humiliating defeat.

The contenders to replace UK Prime Minister Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May is relying on her fellow Conservative Members of Parliament to back her during Wednesday’s no-confidence vote, but her battle to retain the leadership of the Tory party will be weighed against a host of potential suitors.

The beleaguered leader has vowed to contest the vote “with everything she’s got,” telling reporters in Downing Street that a change of leadership “would put our country’s future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it.”If she survives the vote — triggered over her handling of Brexit — she will be immune from another leadership challenge for a year. If May loses, she will be cast out as Conservative leader and will likely outline when she will stand down as Prime Minister.

    Conservative MPs will then choose two new candidates for all registered party members to vote on. These are some of the frontrunners: Read MoreBoris JohnsonJohnson, the former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London, was the face of the campaign to leave the European Union and is one of the most polarizing figures in British politics. The 54-year-old called the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit deal “a legal lobster pot in which we will get trapped.” His biggest bone of contention with May’s Brexit plan? The proposed agreement over the Irish backstop, which could indefinitely keep Northern Ireland and, by extension, the rest of the UK tied to the EU customs union. Brexit crisis: British PM facing leadership challengeJohnson has said he would back a cleaner break from the EU, and negotiate a free-trade deal based on the one the bloc has with Canada. He declined to rule out standing against May as recently as Sunday. British bookmakers have Johnson as a frontrunner, but it’s unclear whether his fellow MPs — who are generally less eurosceptic than their constituents — would nominate him for the leadership post if May loses on Wednesday evening. If nominated however, the ever-visible Johnson would be one of the favorites, as he has the support of Conservative grassroots voters. Boris Johnson quit as Foreign Secretary in July. Sajid JavidJavid, who is the son of a Pakistani bus driver, has risen through the ranks of the Conservative Party becoming an MP in 2010, David Cameron’s Business Secretary in 2015, and Home Secretary in 2018. He voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, but has had a change of heart — becoming a strong pro-Brexit voice on May’s leadership team. The 49-year-old has told fellow Cabinet ministers he would stand for party leader if May loses a no-confidence vote, according to reports in British media. Yet ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Javid reiterated his “full support” for May.

    The last thing our country needs right now is a Conservative Party leadership election. Will be seen as self-indulgent and wrong. PM has my full support and is best person to ensure we leave EU on 29 March

    — Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) December 12, 2018

    Along with Johnson, Javid’s considered a frontrunner to replace May as party leader. If elected, he would become the first non-white prime minister in British history. Sajid Javid was appointed Home Secretary after Amber Rudd resigned. David DavisA hardcore Brexiter, Davis, 69, resigned from his post as Brexit Secretary in protest against May’s original Brexit proposal, the Chequers plan — which the Prime Minister presented to her Cabinet in July.Davis has also publicly slammed the deal May intended to present to the House of Commons this week. If May loses the vote, Davis is seen by Brexiters as a potential “caretaker” who could either renegotiate a more palatable deal for the pro-Brexit wing of the party or guide the country through a hard Brexit scenario — where no deal with the EU is reached. David Davis was unable to back May’s Chequers plan. Michael GoveGove, 51, is a leading Brexiter with a history of introducing drama to Conservative Party leadership contests. He ran Boris Johnson’s campaign for party leader in 2016, but withdrew his support for Johnson and declared his own candidacy. He lost that race to May and was appointed Environment Secretary in 2017. On Wednesday, he pledged his support for the Prime Minister, saying “no one is better placed to ensure we deliver on the British people’s decision to leave the EU.”

    I am backing the Prime Minister 100% – and I urge every Conservative MP to do the same. She is battling hard for our country and no one is better placed to ensure we deliver on the British people’s decision to leave the EU.

    — Michael Gove (@michaelgove) December 12, 2018

    Michael Gove has publicly backed May. Amber RuddOne of the leading backers of the Remain side during the 2016 election, Rudd favors maintaining a close relationship to the EU. She has advocated for Norway-style relationship with the EU, where the UK remains a member of the customs union and a part of the bloc’s single market. It’s a stance that will make it hard for Rudd to win over the Tory party’s euroskeptic grassroots. Last April, Rudd resigned as home secretary after it was discovered her department wrongly deported immigrants from Caribbean countries who had been in the UK for decades, in what became known as the “Windrush scandal.” Despite this, Rudd’s support for May never wavered and she was last month given another Cabinet position, of Work and Pensions Secretary, following the resignation of Esther McVey. Amber Rudd favors maintaining a close relationship to the EU.Jacob Rees-MoggWith an instantly recognizable throwback look, Rees-Mogg has gone from relative unknown to the face of the Brexiter wing of the party. A staunch Conservative, he’s the head of the European Research Group (ERG), which for decades has been singularly focused on withdrawing the UK from the EU. This morning, the backbench Conservative MP called on May to resign, saying the country “needs a new leader.”

    The Country needs a new leader, it is time for Mrs May to resign.

    — Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) December 12, 2018

    Despite being a powerhouse among the party’s grassroots, Rees-Mogg’s election would likely split the Conservatives, dividing the coalition between moderates and hardliners that May has, up until now, been able to hold together. Jacob Rees-Mogg is chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group. Dominic RaabRaab replaced David Davis as Brexit Secretary for a full four months before resigning his post in protest.

      He stepped down last month after May brought a draft deal back from Brussels. The move burnished his credentials among Brexiters, despite a few weeks earlier claiming that he “hadn’t quite understood” how much the UK relied on the Dover-Calais crossing for trade. At 44, he’s the youngest person on the list. Dominic Raab became the second Brexit Secretary to resign this year.

Angela Merkel tells embattled May that Brexit deal cannot be unpicked

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a stark message for Theresa May on Tuesday: The Brexit deal cannot be renegotiated.

The embattled British Prime Minister met the German leader in Berlin as she embarked on a desperate mission to win concessions from European leaders in an effort to sell the deal to the UK Parliament. German lawmakers briefed by Merkel after the meeting said that while there may be room for maneuver on the nonbinding political declaration that accompanies the Brexit deal, there was no question of reopening the legal text itself.

    (It's not just you) Brexit is making Britain very hard to understand right now “There is absolutely no room for renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom currently on the table,” said Detlef Seif, the deputy spokesman on European policy for Merkel’s CDU/CSU parliamentary group.May hopes to obtain “reassurances” from Europe over arrangements relating to the Irish border, the main sticking point for British MPs. She was forced to postpone a parliamentary vote on the deal on Monday when it became clear she would suffer a humiliating loss that could have finished her premiership.Read MoreSpeaking after her meeting with Merkel, May appeared to acknowledge there was no chance of reopening negotiations on the Irish backstop, the part of the deal designed to avoid the return of border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May launched a tour of European capitals in a desperate bid to salvage her Brexit deal.”The backstop is a necessary guarantee for the people of Northern Ireland,” May said, adding that whatever relationship the UK wants with Europe “there will be a backstop in it.”May said she wanted to seek assurances from European leaders that the backstop would be a last resort, and if it were to be invoked, it would be temporary. The non-Brits guide to BrexitEarlier, May met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at The Hague before flying to Berlin to meet with Merkel and then again to Brussels to see European Council President Donald Tusk.May also spoke with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz over the phone. A statement from a spokesperson from the Austrian chancellery said Kurz was in favor “of considering to what extent the British side could be given more security without unraveling the withdrawal agreement.”The statement added: “It is clear that the EU continues to stand by Ireland’s side and supports an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, especially as it is concerned with the preservation of the Good Friday Agreement (the Northern Ireland peace agreement).”Afterward, May met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. She will also visit Irish Premier Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Wednesday. May’s frantic meetings continue as she’s due to meet Irish Premier Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Wednesday.Juncker said earlier Tuesday that “there is no room whatsoever for renegotiation” on the withdrawal agreement reached between the UK and EU. He added that “the best deal we have achieved is the best deal and the only deal possible.”As she flitted around Europe, rumors swirled at Westminster that members of May’s Conservative Party were close to triggering a vote of no-confidence in her leadership. May refused to address the issue when asked about it by a reporter, saying she was focused on delivering her deal.

    No deal?

    May is determined to avoid a no-deal outcome: where the UK leaves the EU without transitional arrangements in place. Businesses have warned it could lead to food shortages, grounded flights and a prolonged economic slump.

      JUST WATCHED

      British peer: Brexit chaos ‘going to get worse’

      ReplayMore Videos …

      MUST WATCH

      British peer: Brexit chaos ‘going to get worse’ 14:27The British pound plunged 1.6% against the US dollar on Monday, its lowest level in two years, amid fears of a potential no-deal Brexit. If a deal cannot be reached in time, the EU and the UK could agree to extend the March 29 deadline for Britain to leave the bloc.The deadlock has led to growing calls for a second referendum. Those calls were buoyed by a decision Monday by the European Court of Justice that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 — its notification that it plans to leave the EU — should it so wish. 'Put it back!' UK Parliament erupts after lawmaker grabs mace in Brexit protestThe Labour Party has indicated it could campaign for a second referendum if May’s bill fails and a general election is not called by her or Parliament.

        Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn savaged May’s government in Parliament on Monday, saying it had “lost control of events and is in complete disarray.” “It’s been evident for weeks that the Prime Minister’s deal did not have confidence of this House yet she plowed on regardless, reiterating ‘this is the only deal available’,” Corbyn said.