FDNY pays tribute to firefighter killed in Brooklyn road-rage attack

Scores of firefighters on Monday lined a Brooklyn street to pay tribute to their FDNY brother, Faizal Coto, beaten to death over the weekend in a road-rage incident on the Belt Parkway.

The body of Coto, 33, arrived via ambulance Monday afternoon at Leone Funeral Home on Fourth Avenue in Greenwood Heights, as the somber throng looked on.

Some wore their heavy turnout jackets and a stiff salute, others their dress blues, as Coto’s body, draped in an American flag, was carried out of the ambulance and into the funeral home.

Coto, a 3-year veteran who worked out of Engine 245 / Ladder 161 in south Brooklyn, was driving along the Belt Parkway around 4:45 a.m. Sunday when he got into an argument with another motorist.

When they pulled over to the shoulder near Exit 4 to hash it out, cops believe, the other driver bashed Coto over the head with an unknown object before getting back into his silver, four-door Infiniti and peeling off.

The driver of the Infiniti, which police sources said is registered to a known gangbanger, was still being sought as of Monday afternoon.

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China ups pressure as bail hearing resumes for top tech exec

Huawei CFO asks for bail and puts up more than $11million as collateral before possible extradition to the U.S. where she could face 30 years in prison for violating Iran sanctions

  • Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, 46, appeared in a Vancouver court for bail hearing
  • Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Canada on December 1
  • She is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran
  • U.S. alleges Huawei used Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran
  • If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison 

The chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei asked a Canadian court to grant her bail in exchange for collateral totaling more than $11million in real estate while promising to fund her own private security detail that would monitor her movements. 

Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei and daughter of its founder, was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1 – the same day that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China agreed to a 90-day cease-fire in a trade dispute that threatens to disrupt global commerce.

The U.S. has accused Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. 

It also says that Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran. 

In response to the arrest, China raised the pressure on the United States and Canada, where the arrest has roiled financial markets.

Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei and daughter of its founder, was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1. The sketch above shows her with her attorney at British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver on Monday

The U.S. has accused Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. Meng has argued that she should be allowed bail while vowing she would pay for her private security detail which would enforce the terms of her bail


Called by the defense, Scott Filer (left) of Lions Gate Risk Management group said his company would make a citizen’s arrest if she breaches bail conditions. Stephen Tan (right), another defense witness, is the co-founder of electronic monitoring firm Recovery Science. If she is granted bail, he has also offered to help monitor Meng

The arrest of Meng Wanzhou (seen in the above handout photo), 46, has fueled U.S.-China trade tensions at a time when the two countries are seeking to resolve a dispute over Beijing’s technology and industrial strategy

Her arrest has fueled U.S.-China trade tensions at a time when the two countries are seeking to resolve a dispute over Beijing’s technology and industrial strategy. 

Both sides have sought to keep the issues separate, at least so far, but the arrest has roiled markets, with stock markets worldwide down again Monday.


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China formally protested to the ambassadors of both Canada and the United States over the weekend.

In urging the court to reject Meng’s bail request, a prosecutor said Friday the Huawei executive had vast resources and a strong incentive to bolt: She’s facing fraud charges in the United States that could put her in prison for 30 years.

On Monday, David Martin, Meng’s lawyer, reiterated that Meng was willing to pay for a surveillance company to monitor her and wear an ankle monitor. 

Called by the defense, Scott Filer of Lions Gate Risk Management group said his company would make a citizen’s arrest if she breaches bail conditions.

Under the defense proposal, Meng’s travels would be restricted to Vancouver and surrounding municipalities. 

Stephen Tan, another defense witness, is the co-founder of electronic monitoring firm Recovery Science. 

If she is granted bail, he has also offered to help monitor Meng, according to the South China Morning Post.

Protesters were seen outside the Vancouver, British Columbia courthouse before Meng’s bail hearing on Monday

Martin said Meng’s husband would put up both of their Vancouver homes plus $1million Canadian ($750,000 U.S.) for a total value of $15million Canadian ($11.2 million U.S.) as collateral.

The hearing has sparked widespread interest, and the courtroom was packed again Monday with media and spectators, including some who came to support Meng.

One man in the courtroom gallery brought binoculars to have a closer look at Meng, her lawyers and the prosecution team. 

Outside court a man and woman held a sign that read ‘Free Ms. Meng.’

Over the weekend, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canadian Ambassador John McCallum and U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad.

Le warned both countries that Beijing would take steps based on their response.

Asked Monday what those steps might be, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said only that ‘it totally depends on the Canadian side itself.’

The Canadian province of British Columbia has already canceled a trade mission to China amid fears China could detain Canadians in retaliation for Meng’s detention.

Stocks around the world fell Monday over investor concerns about the continuing U.S.-China trade dispute, as well as the cloud hanging over Brexit negotiations after Britain’s prime minister postponed a vote on her deal for Britain to exit the European Union. 

In the U.S., stocks were volatile, tumbling in the morning and then recovering ground in the afternoon.

The Huawei case complicates efforts to resolve a U.S.-China trade dispute. 

The United States has slapped tariffs on $250billion in Chinese imports, charging that China steals American technology and forces U.S. companies to turn over trade secrets. 

Tariffs on $200billion of those imports were scheduled to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

But over dinner Dec. 1 with Xi in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Trump agreed to delay the tariff increase for 90 days, buying time for more negotiations.

President Trump (far right) and President XI (far left) agreed to call a truce in their long-running trade dispute at the G20 last Saturday, the same day that Meng was arrested

Bill Perry, a trade lawyer with Harris Bricken in Seattle, said China’s decelerating economy is putting pressure on Xi to make concessions before U.S. tariffs go up.

‘They need a trade deal. They don’t want the tariffs to go up to 25’ percent, said Perry, who publishes the ‘US China Trade War’ blog. 

‘This is Damocles’ sword hanging over the Chinese government.’

Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, has become the target of U.S. security concerns because of its ties to the Chinese government. 

The U.S. has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

Lu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, accused unnamed countries of hyping the ‘so-called’ threat. 

‘I must tell you that not a single piece of evidence have they ever presented to back their allegation,’ he said. 

‘To create obstacles for companies’ normal operations based on speculation is quite absurd.’

Canadian officials have declined to comment on Chinese threats of retaliation, instead emphasizing the independence of Canada’s judiciary and the importance of Ottawa’s relationship with Beijing. 

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Tuesday's UK weather forecast – Patches of morning fog will clear with the east getting sunshine and the west seeing rain

UK weather forecast for 6am on Tuesday December 11

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UK weather forecast for 12pm on Tuesday December 11

 

UK outlook for Wednesday December 12 to Friday December 14

Wednesday will bring showers in the west but in the east it will remain dry with some some sunshine. Moving towards Friday there will likely be showers in the northeast but it will be mostly dry bright and cold across the country.

 

UK outlook for Saturday December 15 to Tuesday January 8

Saturday will see wet and windy weather and there is a chance of snow, most likely over the hills in the north. This could mean the weather will be changeable with long showers. There may be drier periods over the following week and spots of sunshine with clear, cold nights which will bring frost. Temperatures will be normal for this time of year. The Christmas period will also be changeable again with long showers. Leading into New Year a high pressure may come in which will bring drier and colder weather with a good chance of fog and frost overnight.

 

UK surface pressure forecast for 12pm Tuesday

  • Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0

 

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Trump needs to cool it on Twitter

Democrats are certainly milking the news out of Friday’s court filings in the Michael Cohen case, but they’re rightly cautious about taking it all the way to impeachment. President Trump would do himself well by not dumping fresh fuel on the fire — rather than tweeting up a storm.

The city’s own Rep. Jerry Nadler set the basic Dem tone on Sunday, arguing that one alleged crime could be “an impeachable offense” while openly doubting it would “rise to the gravity” of actual impeachment. As head of the Judiciary Committee, he’ll simply hold lots of hearings on the issue to try to embarrass the prez.

He was talking about the case the Southern District looks to be building. The idea is the Cohen-handled hush money for Stormy Daniels, and the Cohen-overseen National Enquirer move to suppress Karen McDougal’s story, constituted spending to help elect Trump — so the failure to report the outlays is a campaign-finance crime.

But that theory has already failed in court: Sen. John Edwards had a fat-cat donor pay off his baby mama while he ran for president. When the feds pressed charges in 2011, he argued his goal was to keep his wife ignorant, not the voters. Jurors acquitted him on one count in 2012 and deadlocked on the rest — and the Justice Department dropped the case.

As for the shame of it all: Trump’s voters have already shown they don’t care about any past infidelity, while anti-Trumpers have bigger issues.

Meanwhile, the only fresh stuff on Russia is a previously unknown outreach to Cohen from someone in Moscow claiming ties to the government, who Cohen never got back to.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s filing does suggest he’s considering an obstruction-of-justice count on the grounds that Trump allegedly encouraged perjury: Cohen kept chasing a possible Trump project in Moscow through the summer of 2016, but he testified to Congress that it had died months earlier.

But anyone hoping for impeachment on those grounds will need Mueller to provide real evidence, far beyond Cohen’s word.

In all, the “revelations” only yielded mild embarrassment for the president and modest hay for Democrats. Yet Trump couldn’t resist days of tweets: “totally clears the President”’ “Leakin’ Jim Comey . . . was so untruthful”; “a simple private transaction” and so on.

At heart, Trump is furious that the lurid “collusion” allegations of the Steele dossier have all fallen completely flat — yet the investigations churn on, searching for some actual wrongdoing. He’d be far better off sticking to that main point, and letting his lawyers sweat the small stuff.

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ICBC fraud: Video released shows man allegedly faking parking lot injury

It’s a case of attempted fraud that ICBC wants you to see.

In October 2017, ICBC received a call from a man saying he had fractured his foot after being pinned under a vehicle for 10 to 20 seconds in a Lower Mainland parking lot.

Turns out, after ICBC received security footage of the incident, the man can be seen falling to the ground after a collision occurs and not pinned under the vehicle at all. A car can be seen rolling backward in the parking lot and striking another car that was driving forward.

Joanna Linsangan, a spokesperson for ICBC, said this man also provided them a witness’ name and phone number but the security footage, found by a security guard, told a different story.

“If the security guard had not gone back to look at the footage, to contact that driver, to share the video, then we would not have had this information,” Linsangan said. “If you see something, say something, because your voice could be what we need to make sure a fraudster doesn’t get paid out.”

Linsangan said last year, ICBC opened 16,000 claims that were flagged as potentially fraudulent claims and about 54 per cent of them had some element of fraud.

This can include things like vehicle damage claims, injury claim or licensing fraud. Linsangan said an estimated 4,500 last year actually involved injury fraud.

“It happens enough that ICBC has found a need to increase the number of staff to look at these types of claims,” she added. “So we were at 60 and now we have 126 staff specifically looking at claims and other types of fraud that are happening within our company.”

“Looking at the number of claims that we had last year and how much we paid out, just for injury claims alone, ICBC paid out $3 billion in claims so when we think about fraudulent claims going through the system, they have the potential to inflate those costs even more, so that affects everybody, all drivers and that affects your premiums too.”

“So when you see footage like this, this should make people’s blood boil because this affects everyone and we are all paying for it.”

In this case, the man’s witnesses never gave any relevant information and the second time ICBC contacted the man, he did not say anything further and abandoned his claim.

However, if that had not happened, Linsangan said this person could have faced fines, jail time, or even a charge on their record.

“Even without the video, it did have a few markings of a typical fraudulent case,” she said. “For example, he told us that he had fractured his foot, well, ICBC didn’t receive any invoices from MSP saying that he had visited his doctor and at the same time, the witness that was given to us didn’t provide us with any information so that wasn’t a very credible witness as well.”

“There are two different types of fraud,” she said. “We have hard fraud, which is like organized crime, staged crashes, and then there’s what we call soft, opportunistic fraud and that’s more prevalent these days and something we see on a daily basis.

“So soft fraud could be defined as someone just taking the opportunity to gain the system, whether that’s you getting into a crash, feeling a little bit better, but still claiming that you’re not well enough to go back to work, or for example, you’re in a crash or you’re a passenger in a vehicle and you claim some type of injury when you weren’t injured.”

“And there’s also this scenario where you’re walking by, you see a crash happen and you literally throw yourself under the vehicle to see if you can get paid out but it’s frustrating, it’s frustrating to everybody.”

Linsangan recommends to protect yourself if you are involved in an incident or crash and collect as much information as possible as soon as possible. Take photos of the damaged area. See if there are any witnesses. Take copious notes with lots of information even if you think the crash was minor, she said.

“Fraud is still a very real issue that’s happening every single day.”

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Accused Russian spy Maria Butina reaches plea deal with feds

Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina — who is accused of trying to broker a deal between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump — has reached a plea agreement in federal court that includes her cooperating with “any ongoing investigations.”

Butina will plead guilty to conspiracy for working with Republican operative Paul Erickson and a Russian official to establish unofficial lines of communication between US politicians and the Kremlin, according to ABC News.

The agreement, signed on Saturday, carries a maximum sentence of 5 years — although Butina could get a more lenient penalty for her cooperation, the network said.

It was not clear in which investigation Butina might serve as a cooperating witness. Erikson, also her former boyfriend, is being probed by feds.

Butina regularly appeared at GOP events and asked then-candidate Trump a question about sanctions with Russia in 2015 at an event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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UK MP Blunt sends letter of no confidence to '1922 Committee': The Times

(Reuters) – British lawmaker Crispin Blunt has sent a letter of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May to the chairman of the committee in charge of Conservative Party leadership contests, the 26th MP in the party to do so, The Times reported on Monday.

A challenge to May is triggered if 48 Conservative lawmakers write letters demanding a confidence vote to Graham Brady, chairman of the party’s “1922 Committee”, which represents lawmakers who have no government jobs.

“I want to encourage those who are thinking about it; get it done,” The Times newspaper quoted Blunt as saying.

May said on Monday she was delaying a planned vote on her Brexit deal as it would likely be rejected “by a significant margin”. Colleagues had told May that she faced a rout in the parliamentary vote set for Tuesday.

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Man Allegedly Kidnapped N.C. Girl While She Waited for Ride to School Bus, Then Raped and Killed Her

A 34-year-old man has been formally charged with the abduction, rape and murder of Hania Aguilar, the 13-year-old North Carolina girl who was taken from a yard on Nov. 5, where she had been waiting for a ride to the school bus, PEOPLE confirms.

Michael Ray McLellan has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree forcible rape, statutory rape of a person under 15 years of age or younger, first-degree sexual offense, statutory sex offense with a person 15 years or younger, first-degree kidnapping, felony larceny, felony restraint, abduction of child and concealment of a death, according to online court records.

Investigators from the FBI and the Lumberton Police Department state DNA evidence recovered from Hania’s remains — which were found on Nov. 27 in a remote section of Lumberton, North Carolina — led them to McLellan, who has been in police custody on unrelated charges since Nov. 13.

An arrest warrant obtained by PEOPLE states that on Nov. 13, McLellan was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, second-degree kidnapping and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The warrant alleges that on Oct. 15, McLellan allegedly pointed a gun at a woman whose car he tried to steal.

It was unclear Monday if he had entered pleas to any of the charges he faces, and PEOPLE could not determine if he had legal representation.

The warrant states McLellan has a conviction from 2007 when he committed an armed burglary. More details on that case were not immediately available..

Officials issued an AMBER alert for Hania around 10 a.m. on Nov. 5 — three hours after McLellan allegedly abducted her from a mobile home park in Lumberton.

At the time, police said the abductor grabbed Hania, an eighth-grader, while concealing his face with a yellow bandana. He put her in a green 2002 Ford Expedition and then sped off.

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The SUV was found abandoned three days later, and had been reported stolen out of Summerville, South Carolina.

The determination of Hania’s cause of death is still awaiting autopsy results.

The charges against McLellan were filed on Friday.

Hania’s funeral was held Saturday at Lumberton High School.

Her father, who lives in Guatemala, could not attend the funeral because his request for a visa was denied, according to the News & Observer.

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‘They dropped the ball’: Some Hedley residents drank unsafe water unaware of ‘do not consume’ order

Frustration is bubbling over in the tiny Similkameen town of Hedley, B.C.

Residents are forced to rely on bottled water after the Interior Health Authority (IHA) issued a “do not consume” order last week.

Officials said elevated levels of coliform and arsenic means water is unsafe to drink, even if boiled.

“The lab tests for two separate things: they test for total coliforms, which is environmental bacteria, and they test for E.coli, which is in relation to fecal contamination,” said Robert Birtles with IHA. “The lab did not indicate that fecal contamination was present.”

“[Residents] shouldn’t drink the water, use it for making ice, baby formula, brushing your teeth or for cooking,” he said. “They can still use it for sanitation.”

It’s believed the water contamination was caused after contractors attempted to replace a pipe across 20 Mile Creek that was compromised during the spring freshet.

The Hedley Improvement District said water testing was completed last Tuesday and the results came back on Friday, which prompted the health warning.

Travis Barck, chief water operator with the Hedley Improvement District, explained to Global Okanagan on Sunday how residents were notified of the order.

“Lynn Wells called Hedley residents Friday night and then Saturday we had a team of people that went out and delivered the notices in paper form to people’s doors,” he said.

However, some residents said they were forgotten.

“I just really think they dropped the ball,” said Hedley Country Market owner Douglas Bratt. “I didn’t get a notice at my house, my neighbour didn’t get a notice and my other neighbour didn’t get a notice. That is just three people on my street didn’t get notices.”

He said he consumed the unsafe drinking water on Saturday morning.

“I live above the pump house,” said Linda Dechamp, another Hedley resident. “How can you forget me? I’m right up there.”

Bonnie Sawiuk is a healthcare worker and said the contaminated water is of particular concern for seniors.

“Sometimes they don’t fully comprehend what is actually happening with the water and some have consumed it,” she said.

Global Okanagan reached out to the District for comment, but is yet to receive one Monday.

Birtles said it will review the notification process with the water supplier.

“With any rural community it is possible that people could have got overlooked in the notification, we will have to check with the water supplier as to what the success rate of issuing the notification was,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the face of adversity the strength of community spirit is on full display.

The market is distributing donated jugs of bottled water.

“My two son-in-laws went out and hand-delivered them to the more compromised people in town last night,” Bratt said.

West Kelowna resident Dave Dionne handed out bottled water on Monday to strangers.

“I just saw your news report about the water situation here so I bought a few cases and I’m just handing it out for the day,” he said.

Birtles said it could be some time before Hedley residents can resume the consumption of tap water.

“It is really difficult to get an ETA because we have to get test results back,” he said.

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Bercow blasts deeply discourteous May for pulling the Brexit vote

Commons Speaker John Bercow blasts ‘deeply discourteous’ May for pulling the crunch Brexit vote at the eleventh hour and urges her to put the decision to a vote

  • John Bercow gave Theresa May extraordinary dressing down in the Commons 
  • He said MPs across the political divide are furious she has pulled the Brexit vote 
  • He urged the PM to give MPs a vote on whether or not to delay the Brexit vote
  • If PM follows the advice then she could still be defeated in the Commons tonight 

Commons Speaker John Bercow today furiously blasted Theresa May’s ‘deeply discourteous’ decision to pull the crunch Brexit vote at the eleventh hour.

In an extraordinary ticking off, he warned the PM that MPs across the political divide are furious at the decision, which comes after ministers spent days insisting the vote was on.

In a stern rebuke delivered in the packed Commons chamber, he urged ministers to put the decision to delay it to a vote of MPs tonight.

But No10 snubbed the plea and a spokesman for the PM confirmed that no vote will be held. 

The dressing down is a fresh blow for the PM whose authority has been left in tatters after she announced the humiliating U-turn to the Commons today.

Mrs May said she had decided to pull the vote because she would have lost if it had gone ahead tomorrow night.  

Speaking from the Commons chair today, Mr Bercow said: ‘Halting the debate after no fewer than 164 colleagues have taken the trouble to contribute will be thought by many members of this House to be deeply discourteous.’

Commons Speaker John Bercow (pictured in the Commons today) furiously blasted Theresa May’s ‘deeply discourteous’ decision to pull the crunch Brexit vote at the eleventh hour


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He added: ‘Indeed in the hours since news of this intention emerged,  many colleagues across the house have registered that view to me in the most forceful terms.’

He revealed that ministers can go ahead and pull tomorrow’s vote without having to formally consult MPs.

But he urged them to put the decision to a vote tonight so that MPs can have their say. 

He said that ‘in democratic terms’ this would be ‘infinitely preferable way’ to proceed as ‘this would give the House the opportunity to express its view in a vote – whether or not it wishes the debate to be brought to a premature and inconclusive end’.

The Prime Minister (pictured returning to Downing Street today) is battling for her political life amid a huge rebellion over her Brexit deal

He admitted that there is a second  option, for the government to ‘unilaterally  decline to move today’s business’.

He said this would mean the Commons would be ‘deprived’ on voting on the Brexit deal and whether or not a vote on the deal should be held.

EU court rules Britain CAN just cancel the Article 50 Brexit process 

European Court of Justice judge Carl Gustav Fernlund read out the ruling on Article 50 at the court in Luxembourg today (pictured) 

EU judges delivered a boost for Remainer rebels today by ruling that Britain can unilaterally cancel Brexit. 

The European Court of Justice decided that Article 50 can be withdrawn by the UK without permission from other member states.

Britain would keep its current terms of membership if it quit the process – meaning keeping the rebate, the opt out from the Euro and exemptions from the Schengen passport-free zone.

Today’s ruling will encourage hopes from pro-EU MPs that a second referendum can be held to stop the UK from leaving the bloc altogether. 

But Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the ruling was ‘irrelevant’ as it was ‘certainly not the intention of the government’ to delay Brexit. 

The case was brought by a cross-party group of Scottish politicians together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project.  

Mr Bercow added: ‘I politely suggest that in any courteous respectful and mature environment allowing the house to have a say – its say – on this matter would be the right and dare I say it the obvious course to take.

‘Let us see if those who have assured this  House, and the public, over and over and over again that this supremely important vote is going to take place tomorrow without fail, which to rise to the occasion.’

His highly unusual dressing down of the PM came on another day of high political drama in Westminster. 

The morning kicked off to a shambolic start for Number Ten as they sent ministers out to insist that the crunch vote would go ahead tomorrow night.

But within an hour the Government had issued an about turn, with news leaking out that the vote would be delayed so the PM could avoid what looked set to be a massive and humiliating defeat.

And she faced ridicule of MPs as she went to the Commons this afternoon to confirm the U-turn.  

She vowed to improve her Brexit deal and said she will tour European capitals and then go back to Brussels to try to secure sweeteners that might buy off huge opposition to the package. 

She insisted her blueprint was still the ‘best deal negotiable’, and said she still planned to put it to a vote once ‘reassurances’ had been secured on the Irish border backstop – but implied that might not happen until well into the New Year. 

In words that raise doubts about whether the tweaks will be enough, Mrs May made clear she is not demanding the EU drops the backstop.  

Amid a cacophony of taunts and barracking from MPs in the chamber, Mrs May said: ‘While there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal on one issue – the Northern Ireland backstop – there remains widespread and deep concern.

‘As a result, if we went ahead and held that vote that deal would be rejected by a significant margin.

‘We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow, and not proceed to divide the House at this time.’  

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