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Brexit Amendments Day in House of Commons as "cracks appear" in EU position

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By Euronews
UK Prime Minister Theresa May just outside 10 Downing Street
UK Prime Minister Theresa May just outside 10 Downing Street   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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As the Brexit clock runs down dangerously, another pivotal day begins.

And first up will be a vote on amendments to UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal. After an historic defeat on January 15, MPs have proposed a slew of amendments to push the bill in the direction they'd vote for.

Later today, Speaker of the House John Bercow will decide which amendments will be voted on. Two key ones are expected to come up to vote.

The first is Labour MP Yvette Cooper's amendment that would require the government to extend Article 50 in the face of a no-deal Brexit, essentially a safeguard against the idea of a no-deal exit, an idea that many Brexiters are against.

The second is from backbench Tory MP Graham Brady, that calls for the Irish backstop to be replaced by "alternative arrangements". The Prime Minister herself is said to support the amendment in the face of opposition from the likes of Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney who says the backstop is not up for debate, and EU representatives who say the entire agreement is not up for debate.

Former adviser to the PM says "cracks appearing" in EU position

Former adviser to Theresa May Tom Swarbrick agreed that it was a tough road to walk for the PM, but told Good Morning Europe on Tuesday morning that backing the amendment was a good move.

"I think basically the Prime Minister has to back something that will allow her to take the majority of votes to the European Union, say, look, here in black and white this is what I can get through the House of Commons - help me make all of this happen," he said.

"I agree that the EU have now been grounded to the position that nothing's going to change when it comes to the backstop and the withdrawal agreement and reopening it. But someone's going to have to budge here. And if the Brady amendment were to be backed by the majority of MPs... then at least it gives Theresa May a bit of a strengthened hand."

Despite statements again and again that the EU position is fixed and immovable, the Prime Minister might be seeing a small window of opportunity and aiming for it.

"Cracks have been appearing in the EU's position across the 27 for the last week or so, which might give some hope that something can be done in order to persuade MPs here that the backstop can be changed," said Swarbrick.

"Otherwise, we're heading for no deal."