Written by : Rob Merrick
Theresa May is facing a fresh Tory revolt that could force her into a humiliating U-turn on her plan to put the precise Brexit date into domestic law.
A last-minute amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is expected to win the support of pro-EU backbenchers who are furious that the move would deny them a proper “meaningful vote” on any final deal.
The potential rebels are the same Conservative MPs who forced the Government to agree to separate – amendable – legislation to implement any exit agreement, in Monday’s climbdown.
However, the latest revolt is far more serious for the Prime Minister, because she personally pledged, just four days ago, that the exit date, of 11pm on Friday 29 March 2019, would be on the face of the Bill.
Dominic Grieve, the former Tory Attorney General, has already branded the plan “thoroughly stupid”, because it would prevent a last-gasp extension to the exit negotiations, if they remain deadlocked.
The Tory rebels are angry that it makes a mockery of the promise of a vote on any deal, because that vote might come too late for Parliament to force a change of course – or prevent a no deal exit.
They met the Conservative chief whip last night, to ram home the message that further concessions will be needed in the days and weeks to come.