Sunday 20 January 2019 11:43 am

Theresa May faces trying week in parliament as MPs plan to delay Brexit

Reporter at City A.M. covering City politics, transport and law. Get in touch:

Reporter at City A.M. covering City politics, transport and law. Get in touch:

Theresa May will update MPs on her Brexit plan B on Monday amid open warfare in her own party over how to break the deadlock in parliament.

She will also table a motion that will be debated and voted on 29 January.

The Prime Minister is believed to be focusing her efforts on winning over Tory rebels and the DUP, having decided that a cross-party deal with Labour MPs would not be attainable.

The Sunday Times reported that the Prime Minister is looking to offer Ireland a bilateral treaty that would remove the backstop from the deal in a bid to get more MPs behind her deal.

A number of amendments will be tabled to her motion on Monday, including one put forward by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve that would allow 300 MPs to trigger a vote on suspending the Article 50 – the formal mechanism that allows the UK to leave the EU.

If the amendment is passed a minority of MPs would be able to take control of the business of the Commons for a day and pile pressure on the government to heed to its demands.

Fellow Tory MP Nick Boles and Labour MP Yvette Cooper are also planning to table an amendment that would effectively rule out a no-deal Brexit by giving May until 26 February to get Commons approval for a deal or else trigger a vote to extend article 50.

A Downing Street spokesperson called the amendments "extremely concerning".

“The British public voted to leave the European Union and it is vital that elected politicians deliver upon that verdict," they said. "Any attempt to remove the government’s power to meet the legal conditions of an orderly exit at this moment of historic significance is extremely concerning.

“The Prime Minister has been clear on the principles guiding negotiations on Brexit. We want a smooth and orderly Brexit with a deal that protects our union, gives us control of our borders, laws and money and means we have an independent trade policy.

“This news should serve as a reminder to those MPs who want to deliver Brexit that they need to vote for it – otherwise there is a danger that parliament could stop Brexit.”

Labour MP Hilary Benn confirmed to the BBC that a group of MPs will meet at 1pm on Monday in his office to discuss the amendments.

"MPs doing their job are not plotters," he said. "They are trying to sort out the mess the Prime Minister has created. We are facing a national crisis and there are many MPs in the House of Commons  whose first priority is to ensure we do not leave without a deal."

Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan told Sky News: "There is no majority in parliament for a no deal Brexit… if you want to stop crashing out of the EU then the law needs to change to extend article 50."

However, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab warned that May should rule out an extension to article 50 and said she should instead pursue an exit mechanism to the backstop, implying that Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney had not ruled it out in the summer.

Meanwhile, Labour's Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer said the party's Brexit policy was now entering a "new phase".

"We've arrived at phase three, we need to think about what the options are."

"Let's put on one side options that are wrong in principle or never going to get through the House of Commons and reduce it to two options that are at least capable of getting a majority, which is a close economic relationship with the EU or a public vote," he said.