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Theresa May takes questions from the House as EU diplomats say deal not imminent

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Theresa May takes questions from the House as EU diplomats say deal not imminent
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Theresa May faced questions about Brexit in the House of Commons, as the deadline for the UK to leave the EU approaches.

The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) branded the policy of getting EU citizens to register to remain in the country "a disgrace", while a Labour MP asked for Brexit to be delayed until MPs were informed about investigations into "corrupt activities" by parts of the Leave campaign.

Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn stayed away from the topic of Brexit throughout his six questions, instead focussing on knife crime in the UK following a spate of deaths in recent weeks.

Here's a look at the key exchanges in today's PMQs

  • Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons asked why a Scottish resident, born under Nazi occupation in Denmark, and living in Scotland for 59 years, was being made to register ahead of Brexit. He called the policy "heartless" and a "disgrace". The PM said the UK was ensuring EU citizens have their rights protected, telling Blackford to vote for her Brexit deal if he is interested in defending the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

  • Labour’s Anna McMorrin asked for an early birthday present for her daughter, who turns 16 on Brexit day, 29th March. She requested May delay Brexit until Parliament had been updated on the status of police and National Crime Agency investigations after Leave.EU and Vote Leave were "found guilty of corrupt activities by the electoral commission". May responded to maintain trust in politics, it was important the government delivers on Brexit.

  • Jeremy Corbyn said police "clearly do not have resources to deal" with the rise in crime and asked if May regrets cuts to police numbers. The prime minister claimed the government is putting more resources into policing. Theresa May preempted the questions saying there would be a summit at Downing Street to explore options for tackling knife crime, following the recent deaths of two 17-year-olds just two days apart.

  • Deirdre Brock from the SNP asked about a visit to Downing Street by Alexander Nix in 2016.

Nix was the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, a firm which closed down following a Facebook data scandal in 2018. Brock asked the PM why the visit was not included in a transparency report, to which May said she will respond to the query.

Meanwhile, as the UK approaches the Brexit deadline, May's chief lawyer failed to produce a deal after talks in Brussels on Tuesday. The European Union, therefore, does not expect a Brexit breakthrough before the weekend.

"It's unlikely that there would be a deal before the weekend," one EU official said. "We are preparing for a working weekend."

Diplomats speculated that, should the EU and UK negotiators seal a deal over the weekend, May could come to Brussels on Monday to give it political endorsement and take it back to London the day before the House of Commons votes on it.