Brexit: the past seven days

As the countdown continues to the scheduled date of Brexit on March 29, here’s what been happening over the past week.

How many days to go: 77

Countdown to Brexit, infographic from PA Graphics

What happened this week: Theresa May suffered two humiliating defeats in the space of 24 hours as MPs flexed their muscles ahead of the return to Parliament of her Withdrawal Agreement. She won the “total support” of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for her deal, but there was little sign during three days of debate that she had won over many MPs.

Shinzo Abe visit to UK
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the ‘whole world’ wants to avoid a no-deal Brexit (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

What happens next: The Prime Minister faces the historic vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday. Few at Westminster expect anything other than an emphatic rejection of her plans by MPs, forcing Mrs May to come back to Parliament within three sitting days to set out her Plan B.

Prime Minister’s Questions
There was uproar in Parliament as Speaker John Bercow selected a rebel amendment for debate (UK Parliament/Mark Duffy)

Good week: Parliament. MPs asserted their control over the Brexit process, helped by Speaker John Bercow’s controversial decision to permit a vote on timetable changes which left Brexiteers incandescent with rage.  By the end of the week, Jeremy Hunt said it was clear that Parliament will not allow a no-deal Brexit.

Bad week: Chris Grayling. The Transport Secretary presided over a widely-mocked exercise to trial the impact of lorry tailbacks if Dover is disrupted by a no-deal Brexit and was attacked by Eurotunnel and the chief of Calais port over his decision to spend over £100 million on extra cross-Channel ferry capacity.

Lorries taking part in a trial of plans to deal with post-Brexit disruption at Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Quote of the week: “Like mid-50s swingers waiting for Scarlett Johansson to turn up.” – Michael Gove’s description of hardline eurosceptics turning down Mrs May’s deal in the hope of getting something better.

Tweet of the week: The BBC’s Norman Smith: “Is this what it’s come to? Anna Soubry faces ‘Nazi’ taunts”

Is this what its come to …? @Anna_Soubry faces "nazi" taunts…..

— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) January 7, 2019

Word of the week: Paralysis. What Jeremy Hunt predicts will happen if MPs reject Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement.