THERESA May has seen a way out of her Brexit mess – as a top Tory grandee vowed to help her deal pass second time around.
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, has tabled a Commons motion which would scrap the hated Irish backstop.
The senior MP today insisted the move would allow Mrs May to return to Brussels and negotiate tweaks to the Brexit deal, allowing it to pass through the Commons in weeks.
No10 has already signalled it backs Sir Graham’s plan and wants to see it succeed when it’s voted on tomorrow.
As the PM faces another crunch week on Brexit:
- Downing Street has warned a bid to rule out No Deal could see Brexit delayed indefinitely
- Pro-EU ministers threatened to quit if Mrs May fails to strike a deal within a fortnight
- Boris Johnson promised to back her if she succeeds in renegotiating the backstop
- A leading business group became the first to call for the backstop to be dropped
- Ireland’s government signalled the deal could be rewritten
- Gordon Brown said Brexit should be pushed back by a year to sort out the chaos
Tomorrow evening MPs will have a say on the way forward for Brexit, with half a dozen different options set to go up for a vote.
Sir Graham’s amendment states that the Commons is ready to back Mrs May’s original deal, which was heavily defeated earlier this month, as long as the Irish backstop is “replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border”.
Brexiteers fear the current backstop agreed by the PM would keep Britain tied to the EU indefinitely by keeping us in the customs union.
LIFELINE AHEAD OF CRUNCH VOTE
Sir Graham told the BBC today: “If we can win the vote on my amendment, then I think it gives the Prime Minister enormous firepower when she goes back.
“If my amendment is carried, she goes back to Brussels and says – you wanted to know what we can get through the House of Commons? This is it.”
The odds on a No Deal outcome fell on Betfair after the amendment was published.
Sir Graham insisted the EU would be willing to compromise if they knew that just one change was needed to get the deal through.
My amendment gives the Prime Minister enormous firepower
Sir Graham Brady
He said: “Many of us did suspect that in the way that the EU always negotiates, we were going to find that it would be only as we come to the end date of the negotiations at the end of March that we really would see some serious movement.
“They want the United Kingdom to leave with an agreement and we want that as well.”
In a boost to the PM, the Irish Times reported today that Ireland is prepared to reopen the withdrawal agreement – despite claiming in public that it’s impossible.
A source told the paper that talks on legally changing the deal could take place if Britain changes its red lines.
No10 is believed to be preparing to amend the backstop to ensure that Northern Ireland isn’t subjected to a new legal regime without the say-so of local politicians.
Today the UK Chamber of Shipping came out against the backstop – saying it should be dropped in order to ensure a deal is passed.
CEO Bob Sanguinetti said: “The only way to truly take No Deal off the table and guarantee an orderly exit is to revisit the withdrawal agreement.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that many more MPs would support the agreement if the Irish backstop proposal was either scrapped entirely or time-limited.”
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Tomorrow night MPs will vote on a series of amendments issuing instructions to the Government on how to proceed.
It is up to Speaker John Bercow to decide which amendments are voted on.
The Brady amendment could pass if the Government backs it and the DUP is on board – but if Mr Bercow refuses to call it for a vote, Mrs May’s lifeline will be destroyed.
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