PM fights to retain power as MPs look to seize control of Brexit

25 March 2019, 00:47 | Updated: 25 March 2019, 09:04

The House of Commons is preparing for another week dominated by Brexit, as Theresa May's position looks increasingly uncertain.

The prime minister spent Sunday afternoon in crisis meetings at her country residence, Chequers, where she tried to persuade fellow Conservatives to back her Brexit agreement.

:: Follow today's events as MPs seek to take control of Brexit

Among the attendees were prominent Brexiteer backbenchers including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis.

But her office gave no hint as to the degree of her success, saying in a statement that the MPs had discussed "whether there is sufficient support" to bring her plan back to Parliament for a third vote.

Mrs May had previously indicated that she may not bring her deal back to parliament this week if there is still not enough support for it.

Meanwhile, Sunday newspapers had reported that a cabinet coup was under way, with a growing number of MPs putting pressure on the prime minister to set a date for her departure.

Without approval for her deal, Mrs May would be left humiliated and that pressure could grow stronger.

MPs are due to vote on a series of amendments this week aimed at influencing the Brexit process.

A proposal led by former Tory ministers Sir OIiver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, together with Labour's Hilary Benn, will attempt to seize control of parliamentary business away from the government.

This would then allow indicative votes to be held in the House of Commons on different Brexit options, in the hope that a majority of MPs will be found for one such alternative.

It would also effectively take control of the Brexit process out of the hands of the government.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has warned that such a move could bring about a "constitutional collision" and increase the risk of a general election.

Mr Johnson, meanwhile, said the government had "chickened out" of delivering Brexit and that Mrs May needed to set out "convincing proofs" showing that the next phase of negotiations would be different before her deal could be supported.

Writing in the Telegraph, he said: "If she cannot give that evidence of change - she should drop the deal, and go back to Brussels, and simply set out the terms that so many on both sides - Remainers and Leavers - now believe are sensible.

"Extend the implementation period to the end of 2021 if necessary; use it to negotiate a free trade deal; pay the fee; but come out of the EU now - without the backstop. It is time for the PM to channel the spirit of Moses in Exodus, and say to Pharaoh in Brussels - let my people go."