MPs will be asked to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B on Tuesday January 29, the government has announced.
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, made the announcement to parliament on Thursday morning.
It came as May and senior cabinet ministers meet representatives of other parties in a bid to find consensus to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit.
After a chaotic few days in Westminster which saw the prime minister clinging to power despite a crushing defeat in a vote on her Brexit deal, Labour have now accused May of failing to show “good faith” as she sticks to her negotiating red lines.
Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to meet May until she takes the prospect of a no-deal Brexit off the table. Instead of attending talks, the Labour leader organised a speech about Britain’s exit from the bloc in a marginal Conservative constituency.
A Conservative “Right to Vote” campaign for a second EU referendum was launched by MP Phillip Lee, who claimed support for a so-called People’s Vote was “growing fast” among his colleagues on the Tory benches.
After seeing off a vote of no-confidence in her government on Wednesday, May invited the other party leaders for individual talks to find a way forward on Brexit.
But she told the Commons she was holding to the “principles” behind the Withdrawal Agreement which was roundly rejected by MPs on Tuesday, including control of borders, laws and money and an independent trade policy.
Aides later said that the requirement for an independent trade policy was incompatible with membership of a European customs union – something which Labour regards as essential.
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner said May was clinging to her red lines because she knew that any compromise on them would “break the Conservative Party” by pushing eurosceptic backbenchers in the European Research Group (ERG) to desert her.
“If she wants to negotiate with all parties in Parliament, and if she wants to do that in good faith, she has to say ‘OK, I’m not sticking to every single one of the red lines that I’ve established’,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“Take no-deal out of the equation and let’s get down to doing a solid deal.”
May met Green MP Caroline Lucas on Thursday morning and was due to see groups of MPs representing different bodies of opinion during the day, including eurosceptic Tories and members of the Democratic Unionist Party.
Meanwhile, Cabinet ministers were reported to be talking to their opposite numbers.
Cable said it was “positive” that May had expressed a willingness to carry on talking after he told her that his party wanted the prospect of no-deal taken “off the table” and a second referendum.
“The fact that my team are willing to continue talking to her team of senior ministers this morning suggests that at least there is a willingness to explore these things,” the Lib Dem leader said.
May is expected to maintain an intensive round of meetings and phone calls before setting out her Plan B on Monday, in a Commons motion which crucially can be amended by MPs.
Amendments are expected to be tabled to seek parliamentary support for a range of options, from ruling out no-deal to extending the two-year Article 50 process or calling a second referendum.
It emerged that Chancellor Philip Hammond told business leaders on Tuesday that the 230-vote defeat for Mrs May’s plans had raised the question of whether a no-deal Brexit could now be taken off the table.
And a transcript of the call, obtained by the Daily Telegraph, recorded that the Chancellor said an amendment expected to be tabled by Tory backbenchers including Nick Boles on Monday could pave the way for Parliament to vote to “rescind” Article 50.
Though he acknowledged that the Government was “not in control” of events on Monday, Hammond stressed: “It is not within their power to mandate any future course of action, that would be for a Government to do.”