Prime Minister Theresa May is battling to get her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement backed by the Commons on the day that was scheduled to see Britain quit the EU.
Mrs May split the legally-binding treaty segment of her Brexit deal from the declaration on future relations with the EU in order to ensure MPs could vote on it on Friday.
Here’s the latest from Westminster:
Leading Brexiteer and Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, speaking ahead of the debate, said: “We should have been leaving the European Union, we should have been leaving at 11 o’clock this evening, and it is a great failure that we are not leaving at 11 o’clock this evening, and that this has been delayed.
“We should have left without a deal at 11 o’clock, that’s what people expected.
“I’m not giving any message to people; it’s a very difficult decision and people will make up their own minds according to their feeling as to whether Mrs May’s deeply unsatisfactory deal is closer to Brexit than potentially a two-year delay, and that’s the dilemma facing people.”
Asked whether today could be the day Brexit is lost, Mr Rees-Mogg added: “That is my concern; whether I turn out to be right or not is another matter.”
On Thursday, the leader of the European Research Group said he would be backing the Prime Minister’s deal “reluctantly”.
Speaker John Bercow told MPs he has not selected any amendments to the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement motion.
A vote is expected at 2.30pm on Friday.
One senior Labour aide told the Press Association he anticipated that the Shadow Cabinet would vote against the Withdrawal Agreement.
He said: “I don’t think anyone in the Shadow Cabinet is going to be ‘committing news’ today.”
The PM’s decision to present just the Withdrawal Agreement to the Commons means it is not a third attempt to pass a “meaningful vote” on the Government’s Brexit deal and complies with rules laid down by Commons Speaker John Bercow.
Under the terms of an agreement with Brussels, if passed by MPs on Friday the vote would qualify the UK to be granted an automatic delay to May 22 of the formal date of Brexit.
MPs have started a debate on the Withdrawal Agreement section of Theresa May’s Brexit proposals. A vote is expected to take place at about 2.30pm.