POLITICS
25/03/2019 15:00 GMT

MPs 'Have The Numbers' To Seize Control Of Brexit Votes From Theresa May

The so-called indicative votes could happen on Wednesday.

Theresa May is resigned to losing control of parliament on Wednesday to MPs who want to stage votes on alternatives to her Brexit plan.

The prime minister will not offer so-called indicative votes on different Brexit options as she believes MPs are set to back a rebel amendment on Monday night to run the process themselves.

Following an emergency cabinet meeting, a senior government source said MPs led by Tory Sir Oliver Letwin “have the numbers” to pass their amendment, paving the way for indicative votes on Wednesday.

May and her ministers felt they were unable to offer a compromise version, as their ultimate goal is to be able to direct the government’s Brexit negotiating stance, the source said.

Some observers however believe indicative votes could be helpful for the PM as she could present a third meaningful vote on her deal as the last chance to avoid a soft Brexit.

However, May was unable to commit to a date for a third vote, despite having to pass her deal by the end of this week if she wants to avoid either no deal on April 12, or a long Article 50 extension with European elections.

Her official spokesman said the government would only bring the vote back if we “if we believe we would be in a position to win it”.

But that seemed a remote prospect after a phone call between May and DUP leader Arlene Foster failed to provide a breakthrough on Monday.

The sense I took from the prime minister and the cabinet this morning was of a determination to do whatever it takes to get a dealDowning Street

The party’s 10 MPs are seen as crucial in swinging the votes of Tory Brexiteers and others behind May’s deal, but a DUP spokesman said its opposition to the deal “remains unchanged”.

At cabinet, there was no mention of Tory calls for May to quit or an apparently aborted cabinet coup against her.

But her spokesman said the PM made clear she was willing to do “whatever it takes” to get a deal.

“The sense I took from the prime minister and the cabinet this morning was of a determination to do whatever it takes to get a deal, so the UK can leave the EU as soon as possible,” the spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing.

“There is a real sense amongst the prime minister and the cabinet of just wanting to get on with this and deliver for the British people.”

Earlier, Sir Oliver acknowledged that MPs may not unite around any of the available options in Wednesday’s indicative votes.

The Tory ex-minister also acknowledged that any votes would be advisory rather than binding on the government and it may take several rounds of voting before a majority is found for any of the options - if one can be found at all.

He said May “hasn’t been able to get a majority and we don’t know what she could get a majority for, so once we find that out there is a way forward, in principle, and then the next thing would be for the prime minister to take that forward and for the government to implement it”.

But he told BBC Radio 4′s Today: “None of us know whether it will work.”

Asked if it was possible that all options were rejected, he said: “Of course I have to accept that. I can’t predict... what parliament will do.”