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All aboard the May-flower

Theresa May attempts to navigate Brexit the same way the Mayflower’s skipper did. Photo: PA

On this day in 1620 the pilgrim fathers set sail on the Mayflower from Plymouth in search of a new world.

Pure coincidence that the anniversary of this historic event comes on the day that the UK marks the six month countdown to leaving the European Union.

But are there some, admittedly tenuous, parallels to be drawn between the fearful, desperate band of persecuted brethren huddled on a ship sailing off into the unknown and the leaders of our country as they try to find a path to the Brexit horizon?

At times it seems that Downing Street, and Labour for that matter, have about as much clue about the final Brexit destination as the Mayflower’s skipper.

It’s a Sunday, so a big day in the political week. In truth it’s all, well, a bit ‘bitty’ today, in news terms.

Theresa May is still insisting her ‘Chequers’ plan is the only plan on the table. Credit: PA

No clear theme emerges, mainly because the Brexit bruhaha hasn’t fully moved on from last week.

Theresa May is still insisting her ‘Chequers’ plan is the only plan on the table and she will get through the hurdles she faces.

She’s on TV saying she gets a “little bit irritated” by all the talk about her leadership.

That’ll presumably be a reference to around 50 of her MPs openly plotting her downfall in the suitably named Thatcher Room in parliament early last week, as first reported by our Political Editor Robert Peston.

Tory Brexiteers have denied plotting to oust Theresa May. Credit: PA

The only plotting Theresa May says her party should be interested in is helping her guide her plan for Brexit through the next few weeks and get it back more or less intact for MPs to vote on.

Now there are two things to say here. One, that it’s increasingly easier to hear talk of ‘momentum’ behind calls for a second referendum.

Remainers would say that, of course, but there have been notable voices within Labour putting pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to also come out and join the chorus.

Sadiq Khan has come out in support of a second referendum Credit: PA

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a second referendum on Brexit before the country is taken down, on what he calls, an "extremely damaging" path.

The Mayor warned that the UK was looking at the prospect of either a "bad deal" or a "no deal" Brexit, with the March deadline under 200 days away.

Mr Khan accused the government of adopting a "chaotic approach" to negotiations with the EU, and branded details of the agreement with the bloc so far as "vague".

Writing in The Observer on Sunday, Mr Khan said the British public should have the final say on what happens next.

"They [no deal and 'bad deal'] are both incredibly risky and I don't believe Theresa May has the mandate to gamble so flagrantly with the British economy and people's livelihoods," he wrote.

Mr Khan continued: "This means a public vote on any Brexit deal obtained by the Government, or a vote on a no-deal Brexit if one is not secured, alongside the option of staying in the EU."

17.5 million voters chose leave in the Brexit referendum Credit: PA

On the other hand, can you imagine the hair-pulling fury there would be from the 17.5 million voters who chose leave if there was ever another vote?

So far Labour’s leader, who has a long record of opposition to the EU, is saying he’d prefer a general election if Theresa May fails to get support for her plan.

Most MPs are keen to be heard saying that the will of the people must be respected.

Perhaps perversely, louder calls for a second referendum might help Theresa May plot a voyage through the stormy seas ahead.

She can threaten her mutinous backbenchers with the spectre of a second referendum or a general election at worst.

She can warn them that a ‘people’s vote’ would loom like an iceberg in the waves her downfall would create.

If she falls, then Brexit goes down with her.

The PM has nailed her Brexit colours to the mast and that’s perhaps what will keep her afloat.