Theresa May faces another tumultuous day in parliament as she presents her Brexit ‘Plan B’, which will she her revert to earlier attempts to ditch the controversial Irish ‘backstop’.
The Prime Minister is due to make a statement to MPs on Monday setting out how she intends to proceed with Brexit after her proposed Withdrawal Agreement was emphatically rejected last week.
But various reports suggest May will eschew efforts to reach an agreement with Labour on a ‘softer’ Brexit compromise, and instead back new diplomatic efforts in Brussels to renegotiate the ‘backstop’ - a device to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
It will be seen as an attempt to win over hardline Brexiteers on the Tory European Research Group and the DUP, the Northern Irish party that is propping up her government.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reported May is mulling amending the Good Friday Agreement as part of the fresh attempt to break the Brexit impasse, adding text to the 1998 deal to avoid committing the UK to the backstop. The report was dismissed by Downing Street.
Details of the PM’s next move emerged after she briefed Cabinet ministers on her talks with other party leaders and senior MPs following the crushing defeat of her Brexit deal last week in the Commons.
In any case, May is facing another bruising day, with at least two cross-party groups of MPs planning to table amendments to enable backbenchers to take control of the business of the House to delay or frustrate her Brexit plans.
On Monday, she will table a “neutral” motion – which is expected to attract a flurry of amendments from MPs – which will be debated and put to a vote on January 29.
One group including senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory former minister Nick Boles is backing a bill to suspend the Article 50 withdrawal process if there is no new deal with Brussels by the end of February.
A second, led by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, has tabled an amendment to enable backbenchers to choose to debate and vote on Brexit issues, one day a week – breaking with the convention that the Government controls the parliamentary timetable.
Earlier, leading cabinet Brexiteer Liam Fox lashed out at moves by MPs attempting to “hijack” Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The International Trade Secretary angrily accused backbenchers of trying to “steal” Brexit from the British people who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Meanwhile, Labour backbencher David Lammy has warned his party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn he risks a historic split comparable to the SDP breakaway in the 1980s unless he backs a second referendum.
“There is a small group in our party who are so frustrated, who have so much grievance, the fear is that they are going to go off and form another party,” he told Ridge On Sunday.
“I personally reject that. But the danger is that, just like 1983, a new party built around a relationship with Europe keeps the Labour Party out of power for a generation.”