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Theresa May tells MPs 'if you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit' ahead of seven amendments votes

Prime Minister Theresa May has told MPs "if you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit" as she demanded they give her "the clearest possible mandate" to reopen negotiations with the EU.

Opening the debate in the Commons ahead of Tuesday evening's vote on seven chosen amendments, she said it was time for MPs to tell Brussels what they want having emphatically rejected her Withdrawal Agreement earlier this month.

Mrs May called for them to send an “emphatic message” to the EU by backing an amendment tabled by Tory grandee Sir Graham Brady, rather than the six others chosen by Commons Speaker John Bercow for voting, which will begin around 7pm.

The Brady amendment would require the PM to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements” to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

Despite what she acknowledged was a “limited appetite” in Europe for reopening talks, the PM insisted: “I believe with a mandate from this House… I can secure such a change in advance of our departure from the EU.”

Here are the seven amendments to be voted on from 7pm on Tuesday:

Commons Speaker John Bercow selected seven amendments for consideration. Credit: PA
  • Amendment B, a move by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper to give Parliament control over the Brexit process if Theresa May fails to secure a deal by February 26. This ultimately seeks to allow MPs to vote on a Bill which extends Article 50 and prevents a no-deal Brexit.
  • Amendment N, senior Tory Sir Graham Brady's proposal to replace the controversial Northern Ireland backstop with "alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border".
  • Labour's amendment A, which aims to allow MPs to vote on options to stop a no-deal exit, including a customs union and the possibility of a second referendum.
  • The SNP's amendment O, which seeks an extension of the Article 50 process and rules out a no-deal Brexit.
  • Amendment G from Tory former minister Dominic Grieve, which also bids to prevent a no-deal Brexit and allows MPs to effectively wrest control of Commons business from the Government for six individual days in the run-up to the UK's scheduled withdrawal date of March 29.
  • Amendment J from Labour MP Rachel Reeves, which seeks an extension of Article 50 if there is no Brexit deal approved by the Commons.
  • Amendment I from Tory former minister Dame Caroline Spelman, which again seeks to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

What amendment does Labour back?

Jeremy Corbyn's party will back an amendment tabled by senior backbencher Yvette Cooper, though the Labour leader faced unrest from his own benches in the Commons.

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Mr Corbyn ignored a critical intervention from Angela Smith - an unusual rejection from a party leader in the Commons - in favour of Ms Cooper, whose amendment could delay Brexit in order to prevent the "chaos" of a no-deal departure from the EU.

The move would result in the extension of Article 50 to keep the UK in the EU until the end of the year in order to reach a deal.

Former Cabinet minister Ms Cooper's plan has cross-party support, including from senior Tory Nick Boles, and would allow MPs to call for the delay if no deal had been approved by February 26.

Jeremy Corbyn's party will back an amendment tabled by senior backbencher Yvette Cooper. Credit: PA

The UK is currently expected to leave - with or without a deal - on March 29.

Labour has been cautious about officially throwing its weight behind the plan, with the party's leadership nervous about alienating Leave-supporting voters in some of its heartlands.

But Labour MPs will now be told to vote for it as the Commons considers a series of options for the next phase of the Brexit process.

However, the Opposition will seek to limit the delay to the UK's departure from the bloc.

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

"The issue is how long an extension could be and the general view is as short as possible," he said.

"But it is literally just a fallback in case there is no deal agreed."

DUP revealed their support for the Malthouse Compromise. Credit: PA

How will the DUP vote?

Ahead of the amendments being announced the DUP revealed their support for the Malthouse Compromise.

This plan unites Brexiters like Jacob Rees Mogg and remainers like Nicky Morgan.

It argues for a new backstop - using technology to avoid checks on the Irish border as well as a longer transition period of an extra year in order to gain time to get a trade deal.

"We believe it can unify a number of strands in the Brexit debate including the views of Remainers and Leavers," DUP leader Arlene Foster said.

"It also gives a feasible alternative to the backstop proposed by the European Union which would split the United Kingdom or keep the entire United Kingdom in the customs union and single market."

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The plan would extend the transition period from the end of 2020 and in to December 2021 and allow the UK and EU to “prepare properly” for WTO terms or “obviate this outcome by negotiating a mutually beneficial future relationship”.

Said to be drawn up by Nicky Morgan and supported by others, the plan reportedly “provides for exit from the EU on time with a new backstop, which would be acceptable indefinitely, but which incentivises us all to reach a new future relationship”.

How MPs voted on January 15, 2019. Credit: PA Graphics

Meanwhile, late on Monday evening it emerged a new Brexit plan had been put forward which is reportedly backed by members of both the Remain and Leave camps of the Conservative party.

Mrs May addressed MPs in Westminster on the eve of a day of high drama, when MPs will debate a range of rival amendments, including calls to block a no-deal departure or delay Brexit from its scheduled date of March 29.

Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis, who confirmed the whipping after the meeting, said the Brady amendment would “allow the Prime Minister to give a very clear message around what Parliament wants, where the party is”.

He said: “I would hope the ERG, when they look at this and actually look through the detail of what this gives the PM tomorrow, (see) it is about giving a message to Europe about what can go through Parliament in terms of dealing with the backstop issue and why that matters.”

Mr Lewis confirmed that the Government would whip against an amendment co-sponsored by one of its own MPs, Nick Boles, which seeks to extend the Article 50 period to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Despite the manoeuvring in Westminster, in Brussels the EU, officially at least, remained resolute that the Withdrawal Agreement would not be reopened.

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, left, speaks with EU Deputy Chief Negotiator Sabine Weyand. Credit: AP

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s deputy Sabine Weyand warned there was a “high risk” of the UK crashing out by accident, as it was “quite a challenge” to see how a majority could be constructed at Westminster.

European Commission vice-president Jyrki Kateinen said there was “no reason to give any concessions” to the UK and there was “not much room for manoeuvre” on the backstop.

It would be “stupid” for the EU to make concessions putting the remaining 27 members at a disadvantage simply to secure a deal, he said.

Downing Street said the PM remains committed to quitting the EU on March 29 and will take her plan back to the Commons for a second “meaningful vote” as soon as possible after Tuesday’s debate.

The developments came as major supermarkets and fast-food chains warned that a no-deal Brexit would force up prices and reduce the choice and quality of produce for shoppers.

In a joint letter, bosses of firms including Sainsbury, Asda, KFC and McDonald’s said: “We anticipate significant risks to maintaining the choice, quality and durability of food that our customers have come to expect in our stores, and there will be inevitable pressure on food prices from higher transport costs, currency devaluation and tariffs.”