May battles for premiership as MPs seek to seize control of Commons business

Theresa May is battling to stay in power as MPs seek to seize control of parliamentary business in a bid to secure a softer Brexit.

At the start of another crunch week in Westminster, the Commons is due to vote on an amendment which would force a series of indicative votes on alternatives to the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement.

Defeat for the Government on Monday night on the plan – tabled by former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve and Labour MP Hilary Benn – would be a further humiliation for Mrs May.

The proposal seeks to pave the way for a series of indicative votes in the Commons on Wednesday, effectively taking control of the Brexit process out of the hands of the Government.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay warned the risk of a general election would increase if MPs took control of parliamentary proceedings and brought about a "constitutional collision".

But Chancellor Philip Hammond said "one way or another" MPs would be given the opportunity this week to decide what it is in favour of, though could not confirm whether Tories would be given a free vote on the options.

Theresa May attends church
Theresa May will convene her Cabinet before updating the Commons on Monday (Andrew Matthews/PA)

After a weekend which saw two senior ministers dismiss reports of a "coup" to oust the PM, Mrs May will convene her Cabinet in the morning before she updates the Commons on the Brexit process following last week's European Council summit where she agreed to delay Britain's departure beyond March 29.

On Sunday, Mrs May held "lengthy" talks with prominent Brexiteer backbenchers including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis at her country residence Chequers to discuss whether there is sufficient support among MPs for another vote on her deal.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The PM and a number of Government ministers met today at Chequers for lengthy talks with senior colleagues about delivering Brexit.

"The meeting discussed a range of issues, including whether there is sufficient support in the Commons to bring back a Meaningful Vote this week."

Elsewhere Mr Johnson claimed the Government had "chickened out" of delivering Brexit this week and told Mrs May to set out "convincing proofs" of how the next phase of the negotiations will be different from the last to win support for her deal.

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'One million' march in anti-Brexit protest
Delia Smith joins with anti-Brexit campaigners as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Richard Bacon and Mariella Frostrup address anti-Brexit campaigners in Parliament Square as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
NOTE LANGUAGE ON PLACARDS Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Protesters take part in the Put It To The People March on Whitehall on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to take part in the Put It To The People March, organised by the People’s Vote campaign, from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a public vote on the Government’s final Brexit deal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Protesters take part in the Put It To The People March on Whitehall on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to take part in the Put It To The People March, organised by the People’s Vote campaign, from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a public vote on the Government’s final Brexit deal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People hold up a heart-shaped European flag placard as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators carry a placard depicting Theresa May, U.K prime minister, and European Union flags as they march during the anti-Brexit People's Vote rally in London, U.K., on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The campaign to give U.K. citizens a vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, twice defeated by Parliament, holds the rally after European Union leaders gave May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators carry placards and European Union flags as they march during the anti-Brexit People's Vote rally in London, U.K., on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The campaign to give U.K. citizens a vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, twice defeated by Parliament, holds the rally after European Union leaders gave May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators carry placards and banners as they march during the anti-Brexit People's Vote rally in London, U.K., on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The campaign to give U.K. citizens a vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, twice defeated by Parliament, holds the rally after European Union leaders gave May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of London during the People’s Vote March on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Organised by the People’s Vote Campaign the rally brought thousands of people from all over the country to the march through the streets with campaigners calling for the final Brexit deal to be put to the people. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
A puppet head of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May spearing a representation of the British Economy is taken on a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they pass Trafalgar Square on a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman holds up a placard calling for 'remain' as she attends a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE LANGUAGE ON SIGNS. Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable MP (C) takes part in the Put It To The People March on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to take part in the Put It To The People March, organised by the People’s Vote campaign, from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a public vote on the Government’s final Brexit deal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A general view of Anti-Brexit campaigners as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. Picture credit should read: Matt Crossick/EMPICS
A general view of Anti-Brexit campaigners as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. Picture credit should read: Matt Crossick/EMPICS
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE LANGUAGE ON SIGNS. Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London.
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London.
EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
An EU supporter with the EU flag painted on her face, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participates in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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Writing in the Telegraph, he said: "If she cannot give that evidence of change – she should drop the deal, and go back to Brussels, and simply set out the terms that so many on both sides – remainers and leavers – now believe are sensible.

"Extend the implementation period to the end of 2021 if necessary; use it to negotiate a free trade deal; pay the fee; but come out of the EU now – without the backstop. It is time for the PM to channel the spirit of Moses in Exodus, and say to Pharaoh in Brussels – let my people go."

However, Foreign Office Minister Mark Field said he would support revoking Article 50 if it became an option in the event Mrs May's deal was defeated and free votes granted for indicative votes.

He told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour: "My personal view is that I would be happy to revoke Article 50 – I appreciate that is probably a minority view – but if we get to this utter paralysis and I sincerely hope that in the next 48, 72 hours we do not, then if that becomes an option that's an option that I would personally take."

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