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News Daily: Brexit delay vote and Boeing grounds Max 8 planes

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No no-deal

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You know it's a day of high drama in Westminster when even BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says she's never seen anything like it. On Wednesday, Conservative MPs, including cabinet ministers, defied orders and ensured a vote to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances passed.

It was certainly humiliating for Theresa May, and afterwards Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Parliament must now take control of the process. But Mrs May was having none of it. To a barrage of noise, with her voice failing, the prime minister said no-deal remained the default in law unless something else was agreed.

This is undoubtedly a crisis, says Laura Kuenssberg, but one that presents an opportunity for the PM. On Thursday, MPs will be asked if they want to delay Brexit until 30 June, but only if they back Mrs May's deal by 20 March in a third meaningful vote. If they fail to do that, Mrs May said the delay could be much longer, requiring the UK to take part in European Parliament elections in May.

It's a gamble, but the PM hopes that by presenting Brexiteers with the choice, "back me or see your Brexit kicked into the long grass", enough will fall into line. However, as BBC Europe editor Katya Adler told Brexitcast, the complicating factor may be that the EU really doesn't want to grant a long delay.

A side note. Those ministers who defied the whip won't be sacked - that breaks one of Parliament's unwritten rules and has left many wondering how any party can govern with such little discipline.

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Grounded

Boeing has grounded its entire fleet of 737 Max aircraft. The move came after a team of investigators from the US Federal Aviation Authority said they had uncovered evidence that the plane involved in Sunday's fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash had "behaved very similarly" to a Lion Air one that crashed in October. The FAA had previously insisted the aircraft was airworthy, despite a string of other countries banning it from their airspace - afraid that the second crash in five months was a sign of a systemic problem. Boeing's decision affects the 371 aircraft currently in operation, but thousands more are on order - their future now uncertain.

Technical problems

Facebook has suffered the most severe outage in its history, leaving key services unusable around the world. Its main product, two messaging apps and Instagram were all affected. The cause of the interruption has not yet been made public. The BBC's Dave Lee says it's about more than just not being able to post pictures - Facebook is a major web utility and lots of small businesses rely on it to do their work.

Are the rules which have stopped nuclear war broken?

By Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent

"We are moving in a minefield, and we don't know from where the explosion will come." A warning from former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov at this week's influential Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. Former US senator and long-time arms control activist Sam Nunn echoed the sentiment. "If the US, Russia and China don't work together," he argued, "it is going to be a nightmare for our children and grandchildren." He urged present leaders to rally around the premise that nuclear war cannot be won, and must therefore never be considered.

Read the full article

What the papers say

There's bewilderment in the papers at the latest political developments. "Brexit Meltdown" is how the Times describes it. For the Daily Mail, "chaos reigns". The Sun talks of Tory MPs breaking down in tears in the voting lobbies. The Guardian's John Crace says Westminster descended into near anarchy. In the midst of this, the Daily Telegraph thinks Chancellor Phillip Hammond used his spring statement to signal he no longer backs the PM's withdrawal deal, and instead wants a compromise with Labour. The Financial Times praises that position, saying Mrs May and cabinet Brexiteers must break out of their tunnel vision, that it's the PM's deal or nothing. Away from Brexit, several papers carry claims from a new Netflix documentary that Madeleine McCann may be still alive. The Daily Mirror says her parents have distanced themselves from the film.

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Lookahead

09:30 Data is published showing the number of people dealt with by the criminal justice system for knife crime in England and Wales in 2018

11:00 Decision due on whether to prosecute 17 British soldiers involved in the killing of 13 civilians on Bloody Sunday

On this day

1991 The Birmingham Six walk free after their convictions for the murder of 21 people in two pub bombings are quashed

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