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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May fails to sway Tory Brexit deal sceptics

Theresa May's efforts to win over her Brexit critics appear not to have swayed opinion, with many Tory MPs still vowing to vote against her deal.

The Prime Minister held a drinks reception for Tory MPs in Downing Street on Monday night, but speaking afterwards, many said they had not changed their minds.

Answering a question from ITV News as he left the meeting, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said there "was no attempt to persuade anybody and I don't really think things have really changed".

MPs are expected to vote on Mrs May's deal on Tuesday, January 15, following several days of debate in the Commons which will begin on Wednesday.

Former cabinet minister and Brexiteer Theresa Villiers said the evening "hasn't changed my view" and she would still not support the agreement.

While DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds described the meeting as a "very pleasant social occasion", but asked whether words of comfort from the EU would be enough to change his party's stance on the deal, he told reporters: "Let us wait and see what comes forth in the course of the next few days but there hasn't been much so far, so we'll see what happens in the next little while."

Mrs May relies on DUP support to prop up her Government.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler, who voted for Leave, said she thought there was a "plan to win" under way regarding the deal, and Eddisbury MP and Remain supporter Antoinette Sandbach said it had been a "very positive evening".

Another reception will be held on Wednesday as part of the charm offensive, while more than 200 MPs who signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit have been invited to meet Mrs May at Downing Street on Tuesday.

The Government will begin broadcasting radio adverts on Tuesday to help people prepare for Brexit, focusing on topics including passports, visas, healthcare and driving in the EU.

They will provide information on both no-deal and other Brexit scenarios, and will be followed by billboards and posters in the coming weeks.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable is set to visit Portsmouth to learn about the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on the port.

Ahead of the visit, he said: "The Government is spending plenty of taxpayers money preparing for a no-deal Brexit but it's very clear it is not taking seriously the disruption that would take place.

"It has been focusing on Dover but places like Portsmouth will suffer and we could see the closure of the M3.

"The police cannot get an answer out of the Highways Agency on how to proceed. And not one Tory MP in the region turned up to a meeting which was held to discuss the problem. It's irresponsible and a no-deal Brexit will cause untold disruption."

Meanwhile, more than 209 MPs from across the Commons have signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

The letter was organised by Tory former Cabinet minister Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey.

Dame Caroline told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “Crashing out of the EU without a deal will cause job losses and bring to an end the renaissance of manufacturing that we’ve seen in regions like mine in the West Midlands, and both Jack Dromey and I know the human interest and impact of this.”

All signatories to the letter have been invited to meet the Prime Minister in Downing Street on Tuesday.

Mrs May has warned the UK will be in “uncharted territory” if the deal is rejected in the vote, expected on January 15.

She told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “What we’ll be setting out over the next few days is a sort of assurances, is measures in three areas.

“The first is measures that will be specific for Northern Ireland.

“The second is a greater role for parliament as we take these negotiations into the next stage for our future relationship.

“And the third, and we’re still working on this, is further assurances from the European Union to address the issues that have been raised.”

Mrs May held talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday and the pair are expected to keep in touch this week as the clock ticks down to the Commons showdown.