Lifeline for May as MPs table amendment giving Commons backstop trigger role

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a debate on the Brexit withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons in London on Dec 4 2018

She suggested MPs could be "given a role" in deciding whether to activate the backstop, which is created to stop the return of a physical border.

May told her Cabinet on Tuesday that "candid" legal advice given to ministers must remain confidential. "It is a vote in which the future of their country is at stake", he said.

"As such I voted in favour of article 50 in order to allow the Government to negotiate a Brexit deal which achieved this".

"It is clear from the Attorney General's advice on the legal effect of the protocol on Northern Ireland to the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues that we were right to advocate its full publication and we have been vindicated in our opposition to the backstop arrangements contained within the Withdrawal Agreement", said Nigel Dodds, the DUP leader in the Commons.

The adjustment would mean Parliament would have to approve a decision to trigger the backstop arrangement or extend the transition period beyond December 2020.

'The most important thing is to have clarity about how we might remove ourselves from a backstop, ' Sir Graham told the BBC's Newsnight.

The poll comes after the prime minister last month delivered the three option ultimatum to her MPs: her deal, no deal or no Brexit.

"This risk must be weighed against the political and economic imperative of both sides to reach an agreement that constitutes a politically stable and permanent basis for their future relationship".

Benn has attempted to amend May's withdrawal plans so that no-deal is ruled out, while Grieve has won backing for MPs to effectively direct the government's Brexit deal should the first draft be defeated.

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Before the prime minister appeared at the despatch box, her government had gone down to defeat for the third time in an hour.

This was echoed by Mr Hammond who has told MPs it is "simply a delusion" to think a better Brexit deal can be renegotiated at the 11th hour after warning a no-deal is "too very bad to contemplate".

In addition, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) who recently opined that the United Kingdom could unilaterally revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU, tweeted that a ruling will be delivered on December 10, one day before the vote in Parliament.

The Brexit legal advice was requested by Starmer at the end of November on the grounds that MPs - who must vote on the Chequers deal in just six days' time - are "entitled to know full legal implications of what the Prime Minister has signed up to".

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which provides May's Conservative Party government with a crucial Parliament majority with its 10 MPs, also voiced its anger, saying it was apparent why the government had tried to "hide" the legal position.

He also noted that the backstop arrangement would be "enormously complex" for the European Union, requiring "considerable resources", meaning Brussels would come under pressure - especially from Dublin - to bring it to an end.

"Overwhelmingly, the message I've heard is that people want us to get on with it".

Chief whip Julian Smith acknowledged he faces an "uphill challenge" to persuade MPs to back Mrs May's deal, but insisted "it's all to play for". It follows a similar decision by the BBC after the two leaders could not agree terms.

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