Brexit in crisis as PM May plots a course around speaker's obstruction

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In it, the lead singer asks his ex-girlfriend in England: tell me, is it still raining there in England, and did the government fall last night?

As expected, Speaker Bercow said he would "have to look at the particulars" of any such changes to decide whether they are "in order". That means that an amendment "which is the same, in substance" as an issue that has already been voted on can not be proposed again in parliament.

The crucial ruling by the House Speaker comes from page 397 of the document, which states that a motion or amendment "which is the same, in substance" as the motion already rejected should not be brought forward again in a session of parliament. But ministers were studying options, and he indicated the government still planned a third vote.

Speaker John Bercow's ruling was a potentially fatal blow to May's Brexit deal with the EU.

Mr Barclay wrote: "Operation Yellowhammer command and control structures will be enacted fully on 25 March unless a new exit date has been agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union".

Downing Street confirmed that a letter would be sent to the EU Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday or Wednesday, setting out the UK's request for an extension to Article 50 to delay Brexit, in the absence of an agreed deal.

"The key questions will be: does an extension increase the chances of the ratification of the withdrawal agreement?"

However Kwasi Kwarteng, a Brexit minister, told parliament the government meant to seek an extension to the Brexit departure deadline, which he expected the European Union to decide on at a summit this week.

One step that Theresa May might be contemplating is taking the extraordinary measure of "proroguing" the parliament.

"There are ways around this - a prorogation of parliament and a new session". However, without that recourse, the government will have to find a new strategy. So, May could be obliged to yet again set out for Brussels and some European Union national capitals to shore up support for an extension of Article 50.

However, several leave-supporting MPs said they had been reassured that May's intention was still to push ahead with Brexit as rapidly as possible - and that she would only accept a longer extension if forced into it by Brussels.

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"Now they have to change their mind on one or the other", France's Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, told reporters in Brussels.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "She is speaking with and having meetings with colleagues and a lot of those meetings have been focused on Brexit".

But the deal needs to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, which could inflame sectarian tensions in the province of Northern Ireland.

It is conceivable that Theresa May could seek to justify a request that Article 50 be extended well beyond the 30 June 2019 date now under discussion in the UK.

The biggest challenge is connected to European Parliament elections that are scheduled for the end of May.

Liam Fox is said to have opposed the extension [Getty Images] Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, also argued against an extension beyond 30 June.

Eurosceptics inside Mrs May's Cabinet hate the idea of delaying Brexit.

The EU's thinking on Article 50 could change in the run up to - and during - the EU summit on Thursday and Friday. In addition, all 27 leaders must agree to a delay for it to be allowed.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held "constructive" talks with the leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Green Party, a Labour Party spokesperson has said.

May, meanwhile, hasn't given up on getting her deal approved. At least Norway and Iceland are larger than Liechtenstein, a country of fewer than 38,000 people - famous for being the world's largest exporter of false teeth.