Brexit: Tories unite to back compromise giving May extra time

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MPs will be voting on a number of amendments to the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement that will determine the future of the Government's plan to solve the Brexit impasse. The prime minister's official spokesman said it will be followed "as soon as possible" by a second meaningful vote on whatever deal has been secured with Brussels.

MPs have been tabling amendments to the government's plans to try to influence the direction of Brexit since Mrs May lost the vote on her original deal earlier this month.

In a joint letter, leading retailers including Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose warned that quitting the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement on March 29 would risk driving up food prices and cutting the range and quality of products on supermarket shelves.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the plan was a "fallback" to guard against a no-deal Brexit.

The amendments are not legally binding on the PM, but majority support for any would place huge political pressure on Mrs May as she seeks a way ahead after the crushing defeat of her plan by 230 votes earlier this month.

Theresa May has thrown Government support behind an amendment that seeks to replace the controversial backstop with unspecified "alternative arrangements" to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

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"Plan A" envisages an "extendable backstop" - as described by one of the paper's backers - which would treat Northern Ireland on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom, and allow the UK to set its own tariffs and regulations.

At this point, all May is trying to do is secure a majority so that she can get a win on the Brady Amendment.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson said Mrs May should "exploit the cracks which are emerging in the illogical position of the European Union and the Irish".

Mr Cullianane warned British MPs that a no-deal Brexit would be "reckless" and result in Irish reunification.

She characterised the proposals as "the withdrawal agreement we have got at the moment with changes to the backstop".

"I think this combines the two things, one that we will leave on the 29 whatever but it also ensures to those who are anxious about cliff-edges and not having any agreement that that departure will be a managed process should we not have arrived at an agreement beforehand - which the prime minister is now going back to renegotiate".

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Any extension to Article 50 would have to be approved by all 27 remaining European Union states.

The bloc responded to the proposals on Monday, with Sabine Weyand, Brussels' deputy chief negotiator, saying, "There will be no more negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement..."

Dismissing calls for changes to the backstop as "like Groundhog Day", she insisted the EU27 were unanimous in opposing any time limit.

The amendment, tabled by Labour's Yvette Cooper, could pass tonight as Jeremy Corbyn has ordered all his MPs to support the plan.

"This is the last chance for Parliament, this is probably the only opportunity that Parliament is going to have to intervene in this process, to take control".

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