Brexit news: Crucial amendments to Theresa May‘s deal will come before MPs today (Image: GETTY IMAGES)
With Parliament at odds over what form Brexit should take, the Prime Minister attempted yesterday to rally her divided party behind an amendment which seeks to break the impasse over the Irish border backstop. At a packed meeting of Tory MPs on the eve of a series of knife-edge Commons votes, Mrs May urged Conservative colleagues to back her in her battle to deliver . And as she fights to keep her floundering deal alive, reports suggest Labour will order its MPs to back a rival amendment designed to block by delaying Brexit.
Today’s votes just 60 days before Brexit, are the first chance for MPs have their say on the UK’s next steps since the overwhelming rejection of Mrs May’s deal earlier this month.
And by throwing her support behind an amendment tabled by Tory grandee Sir Graham Brady, the Prime Minister is pinning her hopes on a victory to give her ammunition to return to Brussels and demand changes to Britain’s divorce terms.
The amendment would replace the contentious Irish border backstop terms with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” in a bid to win over Brexiteers who are opposed to the current terms in Mrs May’s deal.
Mrs May urged Tory MPs to back an backbench amendment to her deal (Image: REUTERS)
However Mr Rees-Mogg, who heads the influential European Research Group of Conservative backbenchers, has warned he will vote against it, insisting only a renegotiation of Britain’s divorce deal will receive his support.
Meanwhile, a rival amendment from Labour’s Yvette Cooper which seeks to avoid no deal by delaying Brexit also looks likely to come before MPs this evening.
Jeremy Corbyn yesterday refused to comment on whether he would back the plan, but reports suggest the Labour leadership will order MPs to back Ms Cooper’s amendment and vote against Mr Brady’s.
In a Facebook post, political commentator Robert Peston said he understood “Labour will impose a three-line whip” for the Cooper amendment.
If approved, the Cooper amendment would give Parliament control over Brexit if Mrs May fails to secure a deal by February 28.
Yvette Cooper‘s amendment seeks to block a no-deal Brexit by extending Article 50 (Image: Jeff Overs//Handout via REUTERS)
Sir Graham Brady‘s amendment would replace the Irish backstop with ‘alternative arrangements‘ (Image: GETTY IMAGES)
MPs would get a vote on extending Article 50 to the end of the year and preventing a no-deal exit.
Commons Speaker John Bercow will select which amendments will be debated and voted on this afternoon, with voting scheduled to begin from 7pm.
But while there is no consensus for any one type of Brexit, it appears there is a majority in Parliament to block no deal.
Just hours before today’s crucial votes, the Government suffered another heavy defeat in the Lords over its Brexit strategy.
Peers backed a Labour motion calling for ministers to take “all appropriate steps” to avoid a no-deal Brexit by 283 votes to 131 – a majority of 152.
A victory on the Brady amendment would give Mrs May ammunition to return to Brussels with (Image: EPA)
The successful motion also demands the Government provides enough time for the “timely passage” of legislation on any deal backed by the Commons.
Brexit minister Lord Callanan said the best way to rule out no deal was for the Commons to approve the deal negotiated with the EU.
Challenged on why the Government was opposing Labour‘s motion, he said no deal was the legal default and this was why ministers could not completely rule it out.
Lord Callanan said: “The Government is committed to honouring the mandate of the British people and leaving the EU in a way that benefits every part of our UK and every citizen of our country.”
Accusing Labour of saying “no” to everything, he said the Prime Minister had listened to concerns about the so-called Northern Ireland backstop and would set out her conclusions today.