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Brexit Backstop amendment might not be enough to help May win vote | Politics News

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Theresa May heads into another bruising Commons showdown on Brexit pleading with Tory MPs to back a move to scrap the Irish backstop.

The Prime Minister is urging her backbenchers to vote for a demand from Tory grandee Sir Graham Brady to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

The backstop is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland if such a scenario isn’t averted in a future EU-UK trade relationship.

But she could be heading for another humiliating Commons defeat after hardline Tory Brexiteers led by Jacob Rees-Mogg threatened to block the move.

MPs are due to vote on the PM’s Brexit Plan B exactly two weeks after she suffered a record Commons defeat by 230 votes on her EU Withdrawal Agreement.

With more than a dozen amendments tabled, many by cross-party groupings of MPs, the outcome will depend on which ones are selected for voting by John Bercow.

The Speaker will announce his selections at lunchtime, around six hours before MPs begin voting, with Sir Graham’s amendment now the key battlegound.

The Prime Minister has been forced to back Sir Graham’s proposal because it appears to be her only hope of winning MPs’ backing for the Withdrawal Agreement.



Sir Graham Brady said his amendment would allow the prime minister to renegotiate the Brexit deal from a stronger position.



MPs urged to back Brexit amendment

But even though Tory MPs are being whipped to vote for the Brady amendment, a sizeable rebellion by Mr Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group of MPs could see it defeated.

Some MPs claim the 60-strong European Research Group (ERG) is split three ways, with 20 MPs determined to vote against the PM, 20 likely to abstain and a further 20 undecided.

Another problem for the PM is that up to a dozen pro-Remain Conservative MPs, led by Kenneth Clarke, are also threatening to vote against the Brady amendment.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 MPs have yet to declare whether they will back the Brady plan and if they vote against it the ERG rebellion is likely to be even larger.



Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said his support rests on ensuring the body of the Brexit deal text is changed, or nullified by a codicil.



Will MPs back Sir Graham Brady’s amendment?

Another danger for the Prime Minister is that pro-Remain Conservative MPs may back an amendment by Labour’s Yvette Cooper which would potentially delay Brexit.

Speaking to Sky News, Sir Graham said his move was an attempt to reach a compromise and with a “significant change” to the backstop there could be a majority for the PM’s deal.

But earlier, at a meeting of the ERG attended by around 50 MPs, Brexiteers complained that Sir Graham’s amendment was too vague and claimed no deal was better than a bad deal.



Brexit glossary



A glossary of the terms around Brexit

As the meeting ended, Mr Rees-Mogg told journalists: “I don’t think it changes anything. The Graham Brady amendment gives conditional approval, so that is an issue. It doesn’t say what it would be replaced with.

“And Graham has said he could live with a protocol rather than changes to the text, whereas from our point of view there needs to be changes to the text.

“There is no move to support it. What matters is what the Government is going to do. Is it going to go back to the EU and ask for the Withdrawal Agreement to be reopened?”

Immediately after the ERG meeting, more than 200 Tory MPs packed inside a Commons committee room heard the PM announce there would be a three-line whip on voting for the Brady amendment.

During the meeting, she clashed with Boris Johnson, who earlier had predicted in his Daily Telegraph column that the PM was poised to launch a fightback against Brussels.

In one exchange, confirmed to Sky News by a close ally, Mr Johnson shouted at the PM: “What do YOU want to do, Prime Minister.” She replied she would continue to “battle away”.

Mr Johnson also demanded some “straight advice” on how meaningful the Brady amendment would be for the issue of the Northern Irish border. She told him: “We won’t know unless you support us, Boris.”

During her speech to her backbenchers, the PM also told MPs if they wanted Brussels to take notice “you have to do more than talk about it – you have to vote for it”.

And she added: “We need to demonstrate where opinion lies. The only way is by backing Brady tomorrow.”

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