Once again, we start the week wondering whether it could be Theresa May’s last in office. The PM will present her Plan B – to the plan that lost by a historic 230 votes – to parliament. If weekend reports are accurate, no meaningful changes will be ensure little or no progress.
New amendments set to pile pressure on May
More interesting are the amendments to be tabled afterwards as backbenchers attempt to seize control of the Brexit process from the government. The big day is January 29 when MPs will probably get to vote again on her deal plus a series of new options.
Chief among them will be an amendment forcing the government to pause or extend Article 50 if they haven’t secured support for their deal by late February. There is a likely majority for that but far less certain for alternatives ranging from ‘Norway Plus’ to a second referendum.
This is an unprecedented moment – a genuine constitutional crisis and volatile, unpredictable situation. These backbench moves are already billed as an attempt to subvert the will of the people by Brexiteers whom, lest we forget, make up an overwhelming majority of Conservative Party members and voters.
Thwarting Brexit is impossible for any Tory leader
Extending Article 50 is one thing but a second referendum would split the party – 90% of Tory members are against. Is a Conservative government really going to risk Brexit being thwarted by backbenchers? Could any Tory leader get away with it? It would certainly be May’s last move.
There is a nuclear option. There are all sorts of problems with a snap General Election but, as with a second referendum, it is one of the only plausible options on the table. It may well come down to one or the other.