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So now what?
The UK is due to leave the EU in just over two weeks, but on Tuesday evening MPs once again rejected Theresa May’s plan for how that happens. The defeat was smaller than the first time but still huge – the backstop still the main, but not only, sticking point. As BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says, it’s not at all clear how the prime minister intends to dig herself out of this dreadful political hole. Or what happens next for the country as a whole.
The immediate next step is another vote. This evening, MPs will get the chance to say whether the UK should leave without a deal on 29 March. The government is also expected to announce details of how the UK will manage its border with the Republic of Ireland in the event of no-deal, along with other contingency plans. All expectations are that MPs will vote against crashing out of the EU this month. However, the government’s motion states that no-deal still remains the default option in law, and some MPs will seek to change that with an amendment that would rule out no-deal altogether.
If MPs do reject no-deal, yet another vote follows on Thursday on whether to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit. The EU has said it would need “a credible justification” before agreeing, and our Europe editor Katya Adler says opinion among European leaders will be divided. As far as the EU is concerned, negotiations are over, she adds, and as much as leaders want to avoid an acrimonious no-deal Brexit, they’re not willing to pay just any price.
Looking at the bigger picture, could there now be another referendum? A general election? No Brexit at all? This piece looks at all the options.
Wind and rain
Weather warnings are in place for much of the UK due to Storm Gareth. Forecasters say there could be gusts of up to 80mph, and heavy rain has already led to flooding in many parts of Scotland. Further flood warnings have also been issued, mostly for north-west England. Travel has already been disrupted – ferries cancelled, rail and air passengers told to expect delays – and that will likely worsen during Wednesday and into Thursday. The second day of racing at the Cheltenham Festival was in doubt, but will go ahead.
On Tuesday, the UK joined China, Australia, the EU and others in banning the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from its airspace. However, US aviation authorities are continuing to insist there is no basis for such action and the plane is airworthy – despite mounting pressure from senators and workers’ unions. It was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed on Sunday killing 157 people, the second fatal accident involving the model in five months. Which airlines use it? Find out.
North Korea’s rocket site message to Trump
By Laura Bicker, BBC News, Seoul
Hey, North Korea – what’s up? What are you doing? As the correspondent for the Koreas, I find myself asking those questions a lot, no more so than now after the much-anticipated Hanoi summit ended without reaching a deal on denuclearisation. Most of the world’s media have no free access to North Korea. The best any analyst or correspondent can do is read the signals coming from Pyongyang. And in the past week we’ve had a flurry of them. This has led many to believe that Kim Jong-un is reaching for the stars and is getting ready to launch a satellite.
What the papers say
“How much more of this can Britain take?” asks the Daily Express, summing up the mood in the papers on Wednesday. The Sun attacks MPs, calling them a “parliament of pygmies” who “calamitously let down the nation”. For the Daily Mirror, the “humiliation” is the prime minister’s. The Times says the rejection of her plan darkened the mood of EU leaders, who are due to meet next week for a summit. A diplomat tells the paper that some behind the scenes are prepared to cut Britain loose. The Financial Times argues MPs must now take control to avoid political chaos and create space for a rethink. Away from Brexit, several papers report that a new study has found air pollution could be causing more early deaths than smoking. But the i points out the UK’s death rate is lower than in many other European countries.
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If you want to get this briefing by email, sign up here The UK is due to leave the EU in just over two weeks, but on Tuesday evening MPs once again rejected Theresa May’s plan for how that happens.