Theresa May will be forced to come up with a Brexit ‘plan B’ within three days if her deal is voted down on Tuesday, after suffering another humiliating Commons defeat.
It is the second setback faced by the prime minister within 24 hours, inflicted by a cross-party group of MPs who want to block a no-deal Brexit.
The government initially felt it had seen off the latest “guerilla warfare” plot from the rebels, because it thought the amendment tabled by former cabinet minister Dominic Grieve would not be allowed under Commons rules.
But Commons Speaker John Bercow sparked fury from Tory MPs by allowing the plan to be put to a vote, which the government subsequently lost by 308 votes to 297, majority 11.
Downing Street had tried to see off the Grieve amendment by promising the PM would “seek to provide certainty quickly” if she loses the vote on her under-fire deal next week, as expected.
But the amendment will force the PM on to the rebels’ timetable, and bring her deal back in front of MPs for a second time after just three days – barely any time to get extra concessions from Brussels.
The group led by Grieve feel they must speed up the parliamentary process to stop May running down the clock to exit day on March 29 in an attempt to pressure MPs into backing her deal to guard against no-deal.
Despite the impasse over Brexit in parliament, Bercow’s move to allow the amendment sparked utter fury from both Tory hard Brexiteers and those backing May and her deal.
PA Wire/PA Images
But facing more than an hour of points of order in the Commons on Wednesday, Bercow stood by his decision.
“My understanding is the motion is amendable, I’m clear in my mind about that,” he said.
After heckles from the Tory benches, he added: “I’m trying to do the right thing and make the right judgments. That is what I have tried to do and what I will go on doing.”
Tory former minister Mark Francois,…