Jeremy Hunt: it's Theresa May's deal or no-Brexit

French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau in conversation with compatriot Michel Barnier the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator More

Theresa May has suffered another significant defeat in the House of Commons that will force her to reveal her "Brexit Plan B" within days if MPs vote against her deal.

With less than three months before Britain is due to leave the European Union, parliament kicked off a five-day battle over May's Brexit plan with a show of force - undermining her preferred timetable if lawmakers vote down her deal on Tuesday.

May has warned that if MPs reject her deal, Britain would still leave the European Union on March 29, with or without any new arrangements.

She is pressing ahead with a vote that she looks set to lose, after failing to win over her nominal Northern Irish allies.

May faces daunting odds in getting her deal passed, and was dealt a stinging defeat on Wednesday when MPs voted for an amendment demanding she produce new plans within three days if the agreement is voted down.

There was a major row in the Commons over whether Wednesday´s amendment could even be put to a vote, with Speaker John Bercow apparently disregarding the advice of his own clerk that it could not.

Responding to the vote, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told parliament it was the government's intention to act quickly if May's Brexit plan was rejected on Tuesday. "It is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option".

In the aftermath of Wednesday's defeat, May's office publicly discussed for the first time what she would do if she loses that critically important vote next Tuesday.

Fellow rebel Sarah Wollaston said she and other MPs opposed to a no-deal exit were engaged in a "guerrilla campaign" to show that it would never get the consent of Parliament.

Losing the vote would deepen uncertainty over the future of Brexit, Britain's biggest shift in foreign and trade policy for more than 40 years.

"I disagree with that, and so I think do the vast majority of members of parliament". Labour's spokesman earlier said the party was not seeking an extension to Article 50.

May said more details of assurances she had won, along with the results of continuing talks, would be given during the Brexit bill debate.

"I understand the importance of precedence but it does not completely bind", he said, as Leadsom shook her head.

Under the plans, the Northern Ireland Assembly would have a say on new European Union rules if the backstop plan to prevent physical checks on the Irish border comes into force after Brexit.

Scotland's most senior Labour MP has warned it would be a "betrayal" for the party to go into a snap election on a platform of continuing with Brexit, after Jeremy Corbyn said the Prime Minister had "lost the right to govern".

That suggestion did little to win over the DUP.

Mrs May postponed the vote in mid-December when it became clear politicians would resoundingly reject the agreement, a compromise deal that has left both pro-European and pro-Brexit politicians unhappy. Most MPs, across the House, including many in government, would not countenance leaving on March 29 with no agreement.

But not all world leaders have supported Mrs May's deal - in November, President Trump said it "sounds like a great deal for the EU".

"It could give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in Parliament and across the country".

The de-facto deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington, said the only way to avoid a disruptive no-deal "is for Parliament to endorse and ratify a deal".

"We will continue to work closely with Theresa May to help in whatever way we can in the run-up to the (UK parliamentary) vote" on the exit deal she struck with Brussels, Abe said.

Image: The Commons will vote on Mrs May's deal on Tuesday.

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