Brexit LIVE: NO escaping Irish backstop as Varadkar says it will STILL be used in no deal

President of the European Council Donald Tusk pushed the EU to offer at a summit next Wednesday a “flextension” in which the UK would be given a year-long extension with an option to come out early if the deal is voted through. But Macron previously told reporters, before repeating himself in English for British broadcasters, "We do respect the vote of the British people. We do respect what the prime minister and parliament are making. "In case of no vote, or no, directly it will guide everybody to a no deal for sure.”

But Mr Varadkar said today he does not believe EU countries will object to a further extension after Prime Minister Theresa May asked EU leaders to postpone Britain's exit from the bloc next Friday until June 30.

He said any European leader who vetoed it would "not be forgiven" for it.

He said: “They would know that they would find themselves on the end of that particular veto power in future. It is extremely unlikely that I could see any country vetoing it."

Earlier today, Labour warned the Conservatives need to be more flexible, as they had not shown any movement on a political declaration of intent on the future relationship between London and Brussels once Britain has left the EU.

But the EU has responded she must first show a viable plan, as her deal has been rejected three times by the Commons. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded this afternoon he is "waiting to see the red lines move".

Follow our live updates on Brexit 

7.45pm update: Lengthy Brexit delay deemed a "suicide note" for Conservatives

Theresa May has been warned that accepting a lengthy delay to Brexit would be a "suicide note" for the Tory party.

Education minister Nadhim Zahawi issued the stark warning about the "seismic" changes to British politics that would be occur if the UK's delayed departure from the EU meant Mrs May 23 European Parliament elections went ahead.

He said the situation needed to be resolved quickly in order to avoid the "existential threat" posed if the UK remained in the EU at the time of the elections next month.

Mr Zahawi said: "It would be, I think, a suicide note of the Conservative Party if we had to fight the European elections."


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Brexit live: Theresa May is still negotiating her Brexit deal (Image: GETTY)

6.57pm update: Passports issued without words European Union before UK has left EU

Sajid Javid has defended the issuing of British passports without the words European Union on the front cover despite the Brexit delay.

The burgundy passports were introduced from March 30, the day after Britain was expected to leave the EU.

Mr Javid said the move was "sensible and efficient" because some passport centres had run out of the previous design.

Susan Hindle Barone, who picked up her new passport on Friday, said on Twitter she was "truly appalled".

"I was just surprised - we're still members of the EU," she told the Press Association.

6.18pm update: May and Corbyn will not hold talks this weekend

No talks have been arranged yet between the two sides for this weekend, a Labour source told Reuters.

Mrs May was made the u-turn to talk to the Labour leader this week, despite months of saying her plan for Brexit was the only possible course.

While both major parties have said they are committed to carrying out the results of Britain's 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, Labour has long demanded a softer break than May has been willing to consider.

5.46pm update: Taoiseach expects checks at Northern Ireland ports if UK leaves with no-deal

If the UK leaves without a deal, the border in Ireland will be the only land frontier between the EU and the UK a scenario that raises the prospect of a return of physical border infrastructure, according to the Irish Times. 

Leo Varadkar said to ensure a free-flowing border, there could be regulatory checks to take place between Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the ports in Belfast and Larne, very much like the Irish backstop plan in Theresa May's failed deal.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Countrywide programme, he said: “Even in the event of no-deal, we will still be saying to the British that you still have obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

“You committed to full regulatory alignment back in December 2017 and we still want the arrangements in the backstop to apply.”

5.15pm: Brexit minister says no exit agreement is NOT a catastrophe 

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris resigned as a Brexit minister on Wednesday after Theresa May agreed to hold Brexit talks with Jeremy Corbyn.

He told the Prime Minister: “I simply cannot support any further extension to Article 50 and this obviously means I cannot stay in government.”

Mrs May has asked the EU to postpone Brexit from next Friday until Jun 30, after her withdrawal deal was rejected by MPs three times.

Mr Heaton-Harris has since explained the Government prepared for a no deal exit scenario. 

He wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Our preparations for this eventuality were very well advanced. 

“Hundreds of civil servants had been working for more than two years to ensure we would be ready; but parliamentarians and others who are doing everything they can to stop

Brexit needed to maintain a narrative that leaving without a deal would be a “disaster” for jobs and our economy. 

“As we leave the EU without a deal, the argument goes, the EU would insist the French impose full customs and border checks, slowing down the flow of lorries through Calais.

4.39pm: Jeremy Corbyn says he "waiting to see the red lines move"

The Labour leader said he had not noticed "any great change" in Theresa May's position while out campaigning in Plymouth today. 

He said: "The Labour position is a customs union with the European Union, access to European markets and the retention of regulations for environment, consumers, and workplace rights as a base on which we can build - a dynamic relationship which means we can never fall below them.

"We've set all that out. I haven't noticed any great change in the Government's position so far. I'm waiting to see the red lines move."

4.29pm update: Germany, France and Holland lining up to dump Britain out of Europe without a deal

Germany, France and Holland made it clear they would not bow to Britain’s demands for a three-month delay if the Prime Minister could not offer a credible reason why extra time would lead to a deal.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said Mrs May had provided “only part of a plan” when she penned the humiliating request to the bloc, while Paris said it would refuse the extension if a concrete solution was not offered.

Mr Rutte said “intense discussions” needed to take place before the EU summit on April 10 when European leaders will decide whether the request should be honoured.

He said: “The plan was that the British would explain what they wanted from the EU.

“A letter was sent today which, as far as I am concerned, doesn't answer this request. I hope it will be possible to give the answers to these questions.”

Mr Rutte said the letter contained “no full plan, there was only part of a plan” and said he hoped Mrs May’s Government “will provide more clarity before Wednesday”. 

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Brexit live: Chris Heaton-Harris pictured with Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay (Image: GETTY)

4.05pm update: Brexit is not the potential problem for chaotic EU election results, as EU fostered rise of EXTREMISM in its own backyard

EU citizens will take to the polls on May 23 to select who will represent them in the European Parliament.

The UK could be roped into holding elections too, after Prime Minister Theresa May asked EU leaders to postpone Brexit from next Friday until June 30.

But the election results may be chaotic regardless of Brexit, as Italy’s far-right League is already making its mark in the country, while Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is very close behind President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche in France, according to Politico’s projections.

Luis Garicano, an economics professor and a member of the Ciudadanos party in Spain, warned the rise of populism was due to the EU’s failure to “solve the problems” of its citizens. 

He said to respected politics website Politico: “The pro-European forces have to fight together against populism and nationalism. 

“However, I also think that the two incumbent powers, the socialists and the EPP, have been to some extent responsible to the inability of Europe to solve the problems of citizens that have caused this backlash.” 

3.31pm update: 80 Labour MPs demand second referendum as part of Brexit deal

A letter signed by the 80 MPs, including shadow ministers, was sent to Mr Corbyn and members of the shadow cabinet today and states that a public vote should be the "bottom line" in the negotiations.

The letter also warns any concessions secured in the cross-party talks cannot be guaranteed, so a referendum should be "a necessary safeguard".

The letter said: "Theresa May has been clear that the legally binding part of the Brexit deal, the Withdrawal Agreement, cannot be renegotiated.

"This means that the only concessions Labour could obtain will be non-binding assurances about the future relationship. Any future Tory prime minister could simply rip up these 'guarantees' after Theresa May leaves office, and it is the stated aim of the vast majority of Tory MPs to do precisely this.

"The only way to guarantee jobs, rights and protections - and Labour's reputation with its membership and the electorate - is to support a confirmatory public vote on any option which is agreed by Parliament, which will put additional pressure on the Government to hold the early general election the country needs."

3pm update: Sinn Fein is ready to fight European elections in Northern Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald and other senior party leadership figures discussed the prospect of a poll north of the border at a meeting of the Sinn Fein ruling council in Dublin today.

Mrs McDonald said: "If an election happens, we will fight the election. We are ready.

"One of the uncertainties is around the whole issue of elections in the north, whether or not there will be European elections.

"We will be ensuring that we will be prepared, and above all this is about protecting Irish interests.

"It never ceases to shock me the extent to which our nearest neighbours can disregard the effects of their actions or inactions on all of us who live in this island."

Sinn Fein has one outgoing MEP representing Northern Ireland, and three representing the Irish Republic.

Mrs McDonald said a no-deal Brexit remains a "real and live possibility".

She said the democratic mandate of people in Northern Ireland to remain in the EU must be acknowledged.

The Sinn Fein president said commitments made by the UK and EU to protect the Good Friday Agreement and ensure no hardening of the border also have to be honoured.

Mrs McDonald said: "We look across the water with some despair at the chaos in Westminster."

2.30pm update: EU UNLIKELY to veto Brexit extension 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a country "wouldn't be forgiven" if it vetoed an extension as that decision would cause hardship to Ireland and other EU countries.

As it stands, the UK is set to leave the EU on 12 April, even though a deal has not been approved by the House of Commons.

Theresa May has written to European Council President Donald Tusk to request an extension to the Brexit process until 30 June but says if MPs agree a deal, the UK should be able to leave before European parliamentary elections are held on 23 May.

Mr Varadkar has said in the past that a longer Brexit delay "might make more sense" than the UK getting "an extension every couple of weeks or every couple of months, because that just adds to the uncertainty for citizens, for businesses and for farmers". 

 Leo Varadkar and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Dublin to discuss Brexit issues this week

Leo Varadkar and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Dublin to discuss Brexit issues this week (Image: GETTY)

1.50pm update: Tommy Robinson WILL NOT be allowed to stand on a UKIP ticket if EU elections go ahead

UKIP leader Gerard Batten told LBC that former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson won't be among their candidates if the UK is part of EU elections next month.

EU citizens wil take to the polls on May 23 for the EU elections. 

Elsewhere, Tory Education minister Nadhim Zahawi says parliament needs to "act quickly" on Brexit because participating in the European elections would be a “suicide note” for the party.

He said to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s important that parliament acts quickly now to decide what it is in favour of. We need to do that quickly because I think going into the EU elections for the Conservative party, or indeed for the Labour party, and telling our constituents why we haven’t been able to deliver Brexit I think would be an existential threat.

“I would go further and say it would be the suicide note of the Conservative party.”

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Brexit live: Mr Varadkar does not believe a Brexit extension will not be veteod (Image: GETTY)

1.24pm update: Hammond feels upbeat about no red lines

Labour's Diane Abbott said the Conservatives needed to show a willingness to compromise on Prime Minister Theresa May's red lines, which include no more membership of the EU's customs union or single market.

She told BBC radio on Saturday: "My understanding is that there has been no movement from the government on the actual concept of the political declaration and that is key.

"The government perhaps has to show a little more flexibility than it seems to have done so far."

But Mr Hammond, who is one of the most pro-European members of Mrs May's government, signalled optimism about next Wednesday's EU summit on , saying most EU states agreed there was a need to delay.

He said: "Most of the colleagues that I am talking to accept we will need longer to complete this process."

He also told reporters today the Government has no red lines in the talks. 

Mr Hammond said: "I am optimistic that we will reach some form of agreement with Labour.

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