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PM promises to ditch the backstop ahead of showdown in the Commons

Get in step:
Theresa May
urged Tory MPs
to back her plan
to replace the
backstop with
‘alternative
arrangements’ PICTURE: PA

THERESA MAY last night promised to ditch the Irish backstop in a bid to stop MPs seizing control of Brexit.

She addressed Tory MPs ahead of today’s ‘super Tuesday’ Commons showdown on a series of amendments to her deal — which was rejected by a crushing 230-vote majority two weeks ago.

The prime minister last night told her MPs at the private meeting she would back an amendment requiring the backstop to be replaced by ‘alternative arrangements’.

No flagging: Anti-Brexit campaigner keeps up his protest outside parliament yesterday ahead of today’s votes PICTURE: AP

Boris Johnson asked what ‘alternative arrangements’ meant. ‘We won’t know unless you support us Boris,’ Mrs May replied, to cheers from the room.

Her spokesman said: ‘The prime minister is absolutely committed to leaving the EU with a deal. But clearly, if we are to obtain parliamentary support for that deal, some changes will have to be made.’

However, the amendment — originally proposed by Tory loyalist Sir Graham Brady (below) — was dismissed as ‘too vague’ by Conservative MPs in the hardline Brexit European Research Group, which is chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Other Tories accused the hardliners of ruining any chance of saving the PM’s deal. ‘Graham Brady sticks his head above the parapet in an attempt to unite the Conservative parliamentary party — and it’s immediately shot off by the hardliners in the ERG,’ said former minister Nick Boles.

‘When will the penny drop? They are hell bent on a no-deal Brexit. Nothing else will do.’

MPs will vote tonight on up to 16 amendments, including one by Labour’s Yvette Cooper which could rule out a no-deal Brexit and delay the UK’s exit from the European Union for up to nine months.

The Labour leadership was not saying whether it would support Ms Cooper’s amendment.

But ten Tories have pledged to back it to head off the risk of no-deal.

No.10 urged them to rethink, insisting MPs would have another chance to vote down a no-deal.

As the price of their support, senior ministers including Amber Rudd and David Gauke have reportedly demanded that the second ‘meaningful vote’ must be held within a fortnight.

Meanwhile EU negotiator Sabine Weyand warned that the risk of a no-deal was now ‘very high’.