No confidence motions in Labour MP Luciana Berger have been withdrawn after activists in her local constituency backed down following widespread condemnation of their move. 

Ms Berger, who has suffered anti-Jewish abuse and been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn's handling of antisemitism, is the subject of two motions of no confidence tabled by party members in Liverpool Wavertree. 

Their actions received widespread criticism and deputy leader Tom Watson, described the behaviour of the activists as "intolerable". 

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John McDonnell sparked fury by suggesting that Ms Berger needed to confirm her loyalty to the party but did say it would be "completely wrong" if the motions were a reponse to Ms Berger standing up to antisemitism.

The shadow chancellor also said Labour would support a fresh referendum on Brexit if Theresa May is unable to get a compromise exit deal through parliament.

The prime minister is due to hold critical talks with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar tonight, as she scrambles to achieve a breakthrough on her Brexit deal.

Ms May flew to Dublin to meet Mr Varadkar, after a series of challenging meetings in Belfast and Brussels over the divisive issue of the Irish backstop, which MPs have ordered her to remove from her deal.

Here's how we covered developments live: 

Welcome to The Independent's politics liveblog, where we will be bringing you the latest updates throughout the day.

Theresa May's Brexit deal risks causing a "never-ending nightmare" for British citzens and businesses, two former senior civil servants will warn today. 

Lord Kerslake, former head of the Home Civil Service, and Lord Kerr, who headed up the Diplomatic Service, will say that the prime minister's withdrawal agreement would deliver a "leap in the dark" Brexit.

More here: 
Jeremy Corbyn is battling to calm a growing Labour civil war over his refusal to support a fresh Brexit referendum, as some of his MPs threatened to quit the party in protest.

The Labour leader was forced to justify his intentions after his new offer to help Theresa May deliver Brexit triggered accusations that he had torpedoed his party’s policy of keeping a public vote on the table.

Theresa May has to accept that the only way she will get a Brexit deal through parliament is to back Labour's five demands, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his party's plans are a "traditional British compromise", and said: "We believe a deal like this, put before Parliament again, could secure a majority and what you're seeing here is, yes, parliament asserting control, and the PM has to accept that the only way she'll get something through parliament is a compromise like this."

Interesting point here --- A second referendum is still on the table if Ms May does not approve the suggested deal or parliament cannot reach an agreement, he said.

Mr McDonnell said Labour's deal would command a "secure" majority.

He said: "If Theresa May said 'I'll sign up to Labour's deal' and we went to Parliament, I think we would have a secure parliamentary majority.

"But we're at that stage now where we're saying very clearly to everybody that people have looked over the edge of a no-deal Brexit and it could be catastrophic for our economy."

The shadow chancellor added: "In the national interest we have got to come together to secure a compromise, and then if we can't do that, well yes, we have to go back to the people."

John McDonnell also waded into the row over outspoken Labour leadership critic Luciana Berger, who is facing a vote of no confidence by her local constituency party.

The shadow chancellor said he understood the action against Ms Berger was triggered by concern the MP could join a breakaway party, not because she has criticised Jeremy Corbyn's stance on antisemitism.

Ms Berger, who is Jewish, has been highly critical of Mr Corbyn over his handling of anti-Jewish sentiment within the Labour Party, as well as his positioning on Brexit.

Mr McDonnell told Sky News: "If people are saying 'look, we are expressing a vote of no confidence because Luciana has stood up and exposed antisemitism in our party', that would be completely wrong and, of course, we would say that is not right.

"But it looks as though there's other issues. It seems on social media, from what I've seen, what's happened is Luciana has been associated in the media with a breakaway party.

"Some local party members, the media, have asked her to deny that. She hasn't been clear in that.

"So my advice really, on all of this, is for Luciana to just put this issue to bed. Say very clearly 'no, I'm not supporting another party, I'm not jumping ship'."

Some senior MPs expressed solidarity with Ms Berger:

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May's Brexit poker game is looking like a grand bluff – but no one has a decent hand, says Indy political commentator Andrew Grice.
 
Read his take on their Brexit manoeuvring: 

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been challenged to take off his clothes and hold a naked debate on Brexit with a Cambridge academic who proffers the benefits of the European Union in the nude.

Dr Victoria Bateman, an economics fellow at the university, invited the prominent Tory Brexiteer backbencher to discuss the issue as she appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme with nothing on.

The academic, who had the words "Brexit leaves Britain naked" written across her body as she was interviewed by presenter John Humphrys, invited Leave supporters to strip off and discuss Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

She said: "I invite Jacob Rees-Mogg to do a naked debate with me and we will get to the roots of this issue.

"Britain faces many, many problems right now from housing to the NHS, and the European Union is not the cause of those problems."

She said she decided to talk about Brexit with nothing on to demonstrate that leaving the EU is the "emperor's new clothes".

She told the programme: "I have myself written thousands of words looking at why Brexit is bad for Britain, but I thought it would be useful to reduce all of those words down, condense all of those words down to one powerful message: Brexit is the emperor's new clothes - that Britain has sold itself a project that cannot possibly deliver on what it promised."

Asked whether she is simply an "exhibitionist", Dr Bateman said: "I am completely comfortable with my own body, I view women's bodies as one of the big battlegrounds that we face today.

"And actually by engaging with society about women's bodies, one of the things it shows is the way in which people are quick to judge women purely based on their bodies.

"For thousands of years men have controlled what women can do with their bodies, and women's bodies have been seen as something purely existing for sex and for babies.

"So what is wrong with a modern day woman taking control of her body and using it to give voice to what is the most depressing political subject in Britain right now?"

Co-presenter Nick Robinson noted at the end of the interview: "I want you to know that my computer screen was strategically placed so I have only been listening to what was being said."

MPs are debating private member's bills in the Commons today - and they had a surprise visitor. Finn, a hero police dog watched in the House of Commons as attempts to give service animals greater protection from attacks were passed.

Theresa May is taking several number of senior officials into her dinner with Leo Varadkar, including Gavin Barwell and Olly Robbins, No10 has said.

The PM's official spokesman said: "She will be building on the discussions that she had in Northern Ireland and Brussels... emphasising what we are seeking, which is legally binding changes to the way that parliament says it needs to improve the deal."

Theresa May is returning to Westminster facing ministerial resignations after she left talks with EU leaders over her Brexit deal empty-handed.

With another vote in the Commons due next week, a minister said colleagues on Ms May’s own front bench are ready to quit if there is no breakthrough in talks with Brussels.

Read this take from our Europe correspondent Jon Stone:
Scottish Tory Ross Thomson has denied allegations of "sexual touching" after an incident in the House of Commons bar.
 
The Aberdeen South MP released a statement, saying he had referred himself to the party's internal disciplinary panel. This means he could face an investigation into his conduct.
 
Jeremy Corbyn hardens his policy of backing Brexit – and increases the chances of a split in the Labour Party, says Independent commentator John Rentoul.
 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has arrived in south Belfast ahead of scheduled meetings with Stormont's five main parties.

He's holding meetings with Northern Irish politicians as Belfast, Dublin and London try to find a way through the Brexit impasse over the Irish backstop.

Mr Varadkar is meeting Theresa May and officials later tonight. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been challenged to a naked Brexit debate by an academic who believes leaving the European Union is akin to the story of the “emperor’s new clothes”.

The UK has “sold itself a project that cannot possibly deliver on what it promised”, according to Dr Victoria Bateman, who invited the Tory backbencher to “get to the roots of this issue” in a nude face-off.

More here: 
Over lunch, read Tom Peck's hilarious sketch on Theresa May's press conference in Brussels, where he says: "In seventy short seconds, Theresa May confirmed she has lost all grip on reality."
 

Expensive European Union mobile roaming charges could return overnight for British tourists in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government has admitted. 

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright formally announced the government had rejected a proposal to maintain a ban on roaming fees if it fails to reach a deal with Brussels. 

Labour will support a fresh referendum on Brexit if Theresa May is unable to get a compromise exit deal through parliament, John McDonnell has said.

The shadow chancellor admitted it would be necessary "to go back to the people" if the prime minister rebuffs Jeremy Corbyn's proposal for a softer Brexit. 

The Labour leader wrote to Ms May on Wednesday offering Labour's support for a potential deal if five conditions were met, including a customs union with the EU and guarantees on workers' rights. 

EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier says he is keen to meet Steve Barclay on Monday but is very clear that the EU "will not reopen" the Brexit deal. Reminder - this is exactly what the UK wants.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted his dinner with the prime minister will not involve any negotiation on the terms of the Brexit deal.

"It's an opportunity for us to meet again to share perspectives on Brexit but, of course, not to engage in negotiations, as they can only be between the European Union and the United Kingdom," he said.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in Belfast ahead of meetings with the five Stormont parties. He will later travel back to Dublin to host Ms May at Farmleigh House.

"Today is not a day for negotiations, today is a day for us to share our perspectives and for us to listen to each other," he said.

"Negotiations on Brexit only happen between the European Union and the United Kingdom, Ireland being part of the European Union negotiating team of course.

"I think everybody wants to avoid no deal, everybody wants to avoid a hard border and everybody wants to continue to have a very close political and economic relationship between Britain and Ireland no matter want happens.

"There is much more that unites us than divides us and time is running short and we need to get to an agreement really as soon as possible, and I'll be working very hard and redoubling my efforts, along with government, to do that."


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