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Why Theresa May's 'new deal' on Brexit stands little chance of winning MPs' backing

Theresa May speaking yesterday. Her speech seems to have increased the chances of defeat when she puts her Brexit proposals to MPs once again.

There is virtually no chance that the Prime Minister can now get her deal through parliament despite or rather because of her ‘new Brexit deal’ that she outlined in her speech on Tuesday.

It doesn’t even seem likely now that her last-ditch attempt to hold a vote in two weeks will be able to go ahead as planned. How could it when it’s doomed, when Theresa May has said she’ll set out her departure timetable at the same time, when her cabinet is in open revolt and her party is on course for a disastrous European election result.

She’ll address MPs in the Commons later to try to sell the updated version of the deal in a bill that leaves open the prospect of a vote on a second referendum and a vote on a temporary customs union.

Monmouth MP David Davies, who had previously supported Mrs May, is now reluctant Credit: PA

It’s not enough to win over the Labour MPs it was aimed at and it’s lost her the support of Conservative MPs who had previously supported her. Brecon and Radnorshire MP Chris Davies, who had reluctantly voted for her deal on the three previous occasions, now says he won’t back it. Monmouth MP David Davies is also reluctant. Former Welsh Secretary David Jones told me it "doesn’t keep faith the referendum" and that "naturally I won’t support that".

Another former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is lukewarm. He told me "It’s a final throw of the dice to get a pragmatic deal through. But the problem continues to be that most MPs either don’t want any Brexit at all or they want an unachievable ideologically pure Brexit. It doesn’t leave much support in the centre ground for a negotiated solution."

Of the Welsh Conservatives, Mrs May can only count on Alun Cairns - although he's yet to confirm this publicly Credit: PA

Of the Welsh Conservatives, Theresa May can only count on Alun Cairns’ vote (although he’s not spoken publicly about his view) and two others. Simon Hart, who’s been an unofficial organiser of those Conservative MPs trying to find a compromise, says he’ll "soldier on" even though his comrade-in-arms Andrew Percy has said he won’t be able to vote for it. Glyn Davies says "it seems an acceptable deal to me. I desperately hope MPs will vote for it. I certainly will".

If the Prime Minister was hoping any lost Tory support would be offset by Labour switchers, there’s no chance. Wrexham’s Ian Lucas told me "there’s nothing new to persuade me to support a bad deal" while Stephen Doughty summed up what other pro-referendum MPs think, saying he "will only support the passage of the bill if any deal goes to a confirmatory vote".

There’s the rub. While Theresa May’s plan to include the prospect of voting for a referendum in her bill is horrifying Conservatives and turning more against her, it’s also not enough for those who do want a new referendum. It’s just created another Catch 22 situation in a spiral of Catch 22 situations. I sometimes wonder if Heller, or more likely Kafka, has written British parliamentary politics at the moment.