Theresa May in fight for her political future ahead of tomorrow’s Commons Brexit vote

Theresa May is battling to save her Brexit deal and maintain her grip on power ahead of Tuesday’s Commons showdown. Ahead of the crunch vote: former Cabinet ministers including Boris Johnson refused to rule out leadership bids, a serving minister conceded that Tory MPs could quit the party over the Brexit plan, and Labour said it would work with other Opposition parties to decide what to do if Mrs May crashes to defeat on Tuesday and could form a minority government. Any defeat would lead to fresh questions about Mrs May’s political future. Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey said she would give the prospect of standing as leader “serious concern” and suggested that Brexiteers should unite around a single candidate. – Belfast Telegraph (£)

‘PLAN B’ REPORTEDLY UNDER DISCUSSION THAT COULD SEE A SECOND REFERENDUM WITHOUT THE OPTION TO REMAIN IN THE EU

A radical plan for a second referendum that does not include the option to remain in the EU is being discussed as a possible “plan B” for Theresa May if she cannot get her Brexit deal through the Commons. Some May loyalists believe that a second referendum might be the “least worst” of several grim alternatives facing her if MPs block the deal on Tuesday or in a postponed vote. One Government source said: “If Parliament can’t decide between this deal, no deal or no Brexit, letting the people decide might be the only way forward. The Conservatives would be destroyed at the next general election if they brought about a referendum that ended up with Britain staying in the EU, so this would be a valid alternative. You can legitimately argue that remain doesn’t need to be on the ballot paper because that issue has already been settled. We voted to leave in 2016. Now people could be given the choice of how we leave.” –Telegraph (£)

UK ‘NOT FAR AWAY’ FROM PARIS-STYLE CIVIL UNREST IF GOVERNMENT HELD ANOTHER REFERENDUM, SAYS IAIN DUNCAN SMITH

Speaking on Pienaar’s Politics, Mr Duncan Smith said: “You think the country is divided right now, you wait until you try and hold that second referendum. There’s a very large chunk of people who will feel utterly betrayed and very angry. And I just caution you, look across the Channel. We are not that far away from that kind of process happening here. People voted and they were told that one vote would be acted on, that that one vote would be delivered. Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to deliver Brexit, they did so twice – once on the Article 50 letter and once when they came back under the urgings of the Supreme Court.” Mr Duncan Smith also appeared to disagree with claims suggesting support for a second vote had increased over the past few months. He continued: “I don’t actually agree there is any particular kind of shift. If you ask ‘do you want a referendum?’ the majority still don’t want another referendum. “Then, if you ask them ‘what kind of departure or staying in do you want?’ they break in 1000 different directions. That’s the point.” He added: “The problem with all this discussion and constant banging on about another referendum is that there is not going to be another referendum. If anybody really, genuinely thinks that they want to hold a second referendum they need their heads examining.” – Express

FORMER MI6 CHIEF TELLS MPS TO VOTE DOWN MAY’S AGREEMENT

MPs should vote down the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, says the former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove. The former intelligence chief – “C” – and Falklands hero Major-General Julian Thompson, along with other former senior military and security figures, have warned that the government has during Brexit negotiations embedded the UK in EU defence and security structures, without seeking proper parliamentary oversight or approval. The group has been warning that the Prime Minister’s deal constitutes a threat to national security, putting UK forces and intelligence and security interests under the emerging superstructure of EU policy. They claim: “Transferring defence sovereignty and compromising the crown jewels in our Intelligence relationships is a bridge far too far in the Cabinet Office’s stealthy efforts to lock the country into perpetual alignment with the EU.” – Reaction

BORIS JOHNSON: WE MUST TAKE ON BRUSSELS WITH STEEL AND UNITY WHEN THE PM’S DEAL IS VOTED DOWN

On all sides of the House, we want a deal. On all sides of the House we want a close trading relationship with the EU, and intense cooperation with our continental friends across a huge range of policy areas. Every MP pays tribute to the hard work of the Prime Minister, in getting agreement on the status of EU citizens in the UK, and vice versa, and on all the other sensible things in the agreement. Everyone wants to get on with it, and address the growing impatience of the electorate. So when tomorrow night many MPs vote – as I devoutly hope they will – to protect our democracy and our union by throwing out this deal, a huge proportion will justifiably cite the backstop as the reason for their decision. Which means that if and when the deal is voted down, it should be clear to the Government what needs to be done; and some options should be immediately ruled out. We need to go back to Brussels and do what they have been expecting all along – and that is finally show some steel and determination. – Boris Johnson MP for the Telegraph (£)

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