Theresa May is today fighting a last battle to get her Brexit deal over the line – in a possible THIRD Commons vote.
The Prime Minister is holding further talks with Tory Brexiteers and the DUP in a bid to overturn a 149-majority defeat last week.
She could unveil something today in a bid to appease her Northern Irish allies. But many of last week’s 75 Tory rebels have already said they won’t change their minds.
If she doesn’t get a deal by Wednesday night, she’ll jet to Brussels on Thursday to beg EU chiefs for a lengthy delay to Brexit.
Here are the 5 key facts you need to know at the start of a momentous week.
1. Theresa May’s going over the top for her deal
Not content with losing twice – first by 230 votes, then by 149 – Theresa May is going over the top of the trench.
She wants to put her Brexit deal to another vote by MPs, tomorrow or Wednesday.
Frantic talks are continuing today with Tory Brexiteers and the DUP to find an offer that might make them change their minds.
An announcement could come at 3.30pm in the Commons on tweaks around the ‘Irish backstop’, a clause in the deal that could trap the UK under EU customs rules from 2021.
The deadline to announce a vote tomorrow is 10pm tonight, and Theresa May could still pull it. Cabinet minister Liam Fox said: “it would be difficult to justify having a vote if you knew we were going to lose it.”
But she needs a deal by Wednesday night if she’s to ask for a short extension of 3 months or less.
Reports suggest the PM could offer a “Stormont lock” to ensure Belfast stays aligned with the rest of the UK – plus a “clarification” of legal advice to assure we could quit the backstop if it’s not working.
The DUP insist talks aren’t about cash.
But their £1bn bung to back the Tories from 2017 runs out this summer, just as the Chancellor has a Spending Review. And Philip Hammond didn’t rule out slinging them more dosh in that review.
Helpfully for the PM, ex-Northern Ireland First Minister Lord Trimble today says the backstop’s functioning has “significantly changed” and she has an “improved” chance of passing her deal.
And some Tories have come on board including ex-Chancellor Norman Lamont, who comes out for the deal today. So did Esther McVey, who literally quit the Cabinet to oppose the deal.
2. But some Tories won’t switch – like Boris Johnson
Theresa May needs all but a handful of the 75 rebel Tories to switch if she’s to have any hope of passing her deal.
But a string of MPs have lined up to say they won’t change their minds – including big blonde buffoon Boris Johnson.
The powerful Tory MP writes in the Telegraph that Mrs May’s deal “gives the EU an indefinite means of blackmail” and will be the “final sabotage of Brexit”.
Tory MP Chris Green told the BBC’s Westminster Hour: “If nothing changes I’ll probably vote against the deal.”
Hardline Tory Peter Bone told TalkRadio today he won’t back the deal – instead advising the PM to “sit tight” and let no-deal happen in 11 days’ time.
He was furious that the PM could delay Brexit, saying: “How can you do something of such national importance when two thirds of your party don’t support you?”
3. And MPs are now openly demanding she quits
MPs have told Theresa May directly that she must quit in exchange for passing a Brexit deal, it has emerged today.
The shock reports of phone calls over the weekend emerged in BuzzFeed and the i newspaper as some Tories went public.
Meanwhile the BBC reports that some Tories could abstain in a vote of no confidence in the government – which Labour could call this week – in order to unseat the PM.
Speaking to the BBC last night, Tory MP Tim Loughton called on Theresa May to step aside immediately after Britain leaves the European Union.
He said: “If she can get this deal through in the next week or so, I think she can then with her head held high say, ‘look, I got us through this really difficult period, now I’m going to hand over the baton’.
“If we get the deal through we come out… I think somebody new needs to come forward and take leadership there.”
Esther McVey said “she needs a dignified departure” and wouldn’t rule out standing for the Tory leadership herself.
Tory MP Charlie Elphicke added: “I think we need to have a change of leadership, and a new face and a new team to take us forward to the future relationship.”
4. Labour is still holding talks about soft Brexit
Labour is ready to throw its support behind a bid to hold a referendum on Theresa May’s deal later this week.
Mr Corbyn said the party will likely back an amendment by two Labour backbenchers which would allow Mrs May’s deal through parliament in return for putting it to a public vote.
Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday he said the party would likely whip MPs to back the deal once he has “seen the wording”.
But Mr Corbyn wouldn’t be drawn on on how he would vote in any referendum saying it would “depend” on the deal on offer.
Meanwhile talks are ongoing between Mr Corbyn and politicians who DO want Brexit – albeit a softer one than the Tories’, with closer links to the customs union and single market.
Last night he invited more politicians for talks to “break the deadlock” and find a “credible” alternative.
Those who have accepted the invitation so far include Jack Dromey and Caroline Spelman, leaders of four opposition parties (SNP, Plaid, Greens, Lib Dems), Yvette Cooper, Hilary Benn, and the Common Market 2.0 group.
5. Meanwhile… we’re an international laughing stock
The Dutch Prime Minister has compared Theresa May to the black knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Mark Rutte – who will meet the PM at a crunch EU summit on Thursday – told Dutch broadcaster WNL: “Look, I have every respect for Theresa May.
“She reminds me occasionally of that character from Monty Python where all the arms and legs are cut off but he then tells the opponent: ‘Let’s call it a draw.’
“She’s incredible. She goes on and on. At the same time, I do not blame her, but British politics.”