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Thursday 14 February 2019

Theresa May faces a significant defeat in the Commons tonight as ERG Brexiteers plan to vote against the prime minister’s motion, which appears to take No Deal off the table.

The government’s motion “reiterates its support for the approach to leaving the EU” as endorsed by MPs on January 29, but that resolution was amended successfully by the House of Commons to include the statement that the House “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for a Future Relationship”.

The vote, which was expected to be an easy and uncontroversial win for the prime minister as an element of her tiresome can kicking strategy, could undermine her credibility even further. Her refusal to provide clarity to the British people – with mixed signals being leaked to the press all week – continues to frustrate onlookers.

Mark Francois, who has long been at the forefront of the battle for a proper Brexit that respects the will of the British people, told the Telegraph that “we cannot vote for this as it is currently configured because it rules out No Deal and removes our negotiating leverage in Brussels.”

The importance of maintaining our leverage by keeping No Deal on the table is more important than ever. Not only is the reality of a clean WTO Brexit no problem for Britain – it would let us save £39bn immediately and take control overnight of our fishing waters, agricultural and trade policy, courts etc – but maintaining No Deal as an option is bound to bring major EU players to the table with a better deal at the eleventh hour.

Today we learned that the German economy only narrowly avoided dipping into a technical recession, with a growth rate of zero in the last quarter. With her economy flatlining and the Eurosceptic AfD rising in the polls, can Merkel afford the hit to the German economy that could result from a No Deal Brexit?

With the exception of the United States, Britain is Germany’s largest net export market. German car manufacturers in particular are heavily reliant on the custom of British motorists. As the economic facts of life continue to bear down on major European countries like Germany and France (whose fishermen are horrified at the prospect of losing access to their richest fishing waters at the drop of a hat), expect the phony tough talk of people like Mark Rutte to be replaced by cordial (and quite desperate) requests for serious crunch talks…