Theresa May has one last chance to save Brexit deal and herself, top MPs warn

The PM was told she must find a way for Britain to escape the EU customs union – or see her deal go down in flames.

Mrs May has just six days to convince MPs they should back her withdrawal agreement, and could be forced out of power if she loses.

As the Brexit drama reached a peak:

  • The PM reeled from a humiliating TRIPLE defeat in the House of Commons
  • Ministers prepared to publish the full legal advice they've received on Brexit
  • Tory Remainers hatched a plot to force Britain into a soft Brexit if Mrs May is defeated
  • The second day of Commons debate on the PM's deal was set to kick off

Graham Brady, the influential Tory backbench boss who controls the timing of leadership votes, led the calls for a solution to the backstop.

Speaking in the Commons late last night, he praised Mrs May's efforts in hammering out a deal with the EU.

But Sir Graham hinted that he will vote against the deal if the PM can't convince him that the backstop is only temporary – and added that other Tory MPs will do the same.

He said: "Over the next seven days can I urge the Brexit Secretary and the Prime Minister in the strongest possible terms to redouble their efforts to find a way to give real reassurance that we the United Kingdom in future could leave the Northern Irish backstop in the event that we have had to join it.

"Many of us are hoping to hear that reassurance, and are willing the Brexit Secretary and the Prime Minister well in the process."

As chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham handles the letters from rebel Tories calling for a vote of no confidence in the Tory leader.

His concerns on the backstop were echoed by other MPs who are worried about Britain getting trapped in the customs union.

Under the terms of Mrs May's deal, the backstop would come into effect if there was no other way of keeping the Irish border open.

It would keep the UK in the EU's customs union – meaning the Government wouldn't be able to strike trade deals around the world.

The PM is under pressure to tweak the deal to allow Britain to leave the backstop without permission from Brussels.

Ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab blasted: "The bare minimum is the ability to exit the backstop."

Shailesh Vara, who also quit as a minister in protest against the deal, told the BBC: "At least two ministers that I know of are thinking of resigning in the next few days if there isn't some form of settlement."

And former Chief Whip Mark Harper vowed to oppose the deal, saying the PM's plans "threaten the integrity of our country, keep us trapped indefinitely in a customs union and leave us in a weak negotiating position for our future relationship".

If Mrs May does lose the Commons vote next Tuesday, she is expected to ask EU leaders for changes to the current deal at a Brussels summit taking place days later.

Today Sajid Javid will open the second of the five days of Commons debate on the deal, with Jeremy Hunt wrapping it up tonight.

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