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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May warned promise to fall on sword may not be enough to pass Brexit deal

Theresa May arriving at the Houses of Parliament after said she will not remain in post for the next phase of Brexit negotiations Credit: PA

Theresa May has been warned her promise to stand down if her Brexit deal goes through will not be enough to win over hardline Tory Eurosceptics.

The Prime Minister sounded the death knell on her premiership by telling Tory MPs she would stand down for the next phase of negotiations with Brussels.

She is is currently battling to win round DUP allies in a desperate attempt to save her Brexit deal.

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said the Government is considering staging a vote on its EU Withdrawal Agreement on Friday.

However Friday's debate is dependent on a business motion being moved and passed by the House later on Thursday and Commons Speaker John Bercow has the final say on whether the motion can be tabled.

Ms Leadsom's words have led to confusion in Westminster.

ITV News' Political Editor Robert Peston has said the "meaningful vote three is not tomorrow" before adding Government "will lay a different motion" on Friday.

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However a DUP spokesman has said the party's position on the Withdrawal Agreement remains unchanged.

The European Commission urged MPs, on Thursday, to agree a way forward on Brexit following the "indicative votes" in the Commons on Wednesday.

"The commission takes note of the indicative votes in the House of Commons last night," the commission's chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels.

"This is part of an ongoing political process in the United Kingdom which we fully respect.

"We counted eight 'noes' last night. Now we need a 'yes' on the way forward."

David Cameron also said the Government needs to "work together" as "Parliament is stuck".

The former prime minister added Parliament has to "compromise" as "there are four groups in Parliament, people who want the PM's deal, people who want no deal, people who want a second referendum and people who want a softer Brexit".

He said he also "supports Theresa May and wishes her well in what she wants to do".

Cabinet Ministers including Michael Gove and Liz Truss have urged MPs to back Mrs May's deal.

The Environment Secretary said: "I think the single most important thing every MP needs to concentrate on is making sure we deliver on the mandate to leave the EU".

Ms Truss, the Treasury Chief Secretary, told ITV News that the Government is still in talks with the DUP on how they can secure their support for Theresa May's deal.

She added: "I believe it will go through and we will be able to get some form of agreement and that is the only good path for our country".

A steady stream of Eurosceptics have signalled they will now support the deal, with Boris Johnson the most prominent to perform a U-turn.

The former foreign secretary, who once likened the deal to a “suicide vest” around the British constitution, told the Daily Telegraph he was “very, very sorry” to have changed his mind.

But he said “in the end, the thing I fought for may never happen” because unless Mrs May’s deal is passed, “I genuinely think the House of Commons is going to steal Brexit”.

His change of position was revealed at a meeting of the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit Conservatives shortly after Mrs May had made her own announcement at the Tory 1922 Committee.

Mrs May told her MPs: "I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach - and new leadership - in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that.”

But the PM’s sacrifice in the effort to secure the 75 votes needed to overturn the 149-vote defeat on her deal may prove to be in vain, with resistance among sections of the ERG - and the Democratic Unionist Party - remaining strong.

Credit: PA Graphics

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the Northern Irish party "cannot sign up" to the deal because of its controversial "backstop" provisions designed to prevent a hard border.

The unionist party fears the measures will place a trade barrier in the Irish Sea, potentially seeing divergence between the rules in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Mrs Foster pinned the blame on the Mrs May, saying that while her Party "want to try and get a deal", they are opposed to that put forward by Mrs May because the "backstop in that Withdrawal Agreement makes it impossible for us to sign up to" it.

She continued this was something "I regret... because we wanted to get a deal that worked for the whole United Kingdom, a deal that worked for Northern Ireland, but we cannot sign up to the agreement and it's all because the Prime minister decided to go for that backstop way back in December 2017".