5 fast Brexit facts you need to know this morning with 22 days to go
The Prime Minister was handed another defeat by Parliament over Brexit last night.
The House of Lords demanded she look again at plans to leave the customs union – a move that could trigger a softer Brexit.
At almost the same time, Jeremy Corbyn was holding secretive talks with Tory backbenchers that could have the same effect.
With just 22 days to go it is another headache that Theresa May doesn’t need.
She wants MPs to approve her Brexit deal in a final vote on Tuesday, but her hope of a new offer for the EU looks to have been rejected.
Now EU chiefs claim there are just 48 hours left to reach a deal.
Here are the main things you need to know about Brexit this morning.
1. There are just 48 hours for a breakthrough
EU chiefs have warned Theresa May the UK has just 48 hours to come up with proposals, the BBC reports.
It comes after "difficult" and "robust" talks earlier this week ended in deadlock.
London wants Brussels to agree changes to the ‘Irish backstop’, a clause in the 585-page Brexit deal that could extend EU customs rules over the UK from 2021.
But the EU has refused to budge and time is running out.
The Brexit Department announced last night that the UK and EU have agreed to consider a "joint work stream" to consider alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop.
But it’s not the alternative many hope for. It would only come up with this alternative after March 29, once a deal has been signed off.
The EU is said to be willing to work through the weekend. But it needs something to work with and it claims the ball is in Britain’s court.
At the very latest the final agreement needs to be made by around dawn on Monday, in time to be put to MPs in a motion on Monday afternoon before Tuesday’s vote.
2. Jeremy Corbyn is working with Tories on a soft Brexit
Jeremy Corbyn is working with Tory backbenchers to try to reach a ‘soft’ Brexit deal that can get the support of Parliament.
The Labour leader held in-depth talks with a cross-party group of MPs last night who are backing a Norway-plus style Brexit.
Afterwards, he said felt “more certain” and “more determined” than ever that a sensible compromise could be struck.
Mr Corbyn hopes to secure a close economic relationship with the EU after Brexit that would keep both Leave and Remain voters happy.
And he wants to move beyond Brexit to concentrate on crucial domestic issues that are currently being neglected.
3. The House of Lords has voted for a soft Brexit too – with perfect timing
Theresa May was defeated over Brexit last night in the House of Lords, where peers voted to stay in a customs union with the EU.
The House of Lords amendment will send the Trade Bill back to the Commons – where it is another headache the PM doesn’t need.
The amendment, which was supported by Labour, LibDems and peers from across the house, will force the Prime Minister to schedule another vote in the Commons if she wants to maintain her current policy of leaving the customs union when we leave the EU.
MPs have already rejected amendments calling for the UK to remain in the customs union, but in these uncertain times we can’t guarantee they’ll vote the same way twice.
4. You might want to renew your passport by this Friday if you’re planning on visiting Europe
Millions of UK travellers could be barred from entering several European countries in the event of a no-deal Brexit unless they renew their passports by Friday. according to Which?
Holidaymakers and business travellers risk falling foul of rules for entering countries in the Schengen zone such as France, Spain and Italy.
Visitors usually need at least six months left on their passport from the date they arrive. Before Brexit, you could move around Europe with just one day left.
5. Accountants fear the UK will leave with No Deal
A majority of people working in the finance sector believe the UK will exit the EU without a deal
Research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) found 73% of more than 300 of its members think such an outcome is either "very likely" or "quite likely".
Just over half (56%) said their organisation is prepared for a no-deal Brexit.
One in three believe the UK will formally leave on the appointed date of March 29.
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