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MPs are trying to influence the Brexit process in a number of ways, as Theresa May continues her bid to get the EU to change the deal.

After updating the Commons on the negotiations, the prime minister asked MPs to approve a motion simply acknowledging that process was ongoing and restating their support for the approach.

But several MPs have tabled amendments setting out alternative plans.

Even if they won the backing of a majority of MPs, the proposals would not be binding on the government. However, they could put pressure on Mrs May to change course.

She has adopted proposals from two successful backbench amendments tabled in January.

One asked her to seek alternatives to the “backstop”, which aims to prevent the return of customs checkpoints on the Irish border in the event that no trade deal comes into force. The other rejected leaving the EU without a formal exit deal.

The proposals are below. Use our guide to Brexit jargon or follow the links for further explanation.

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Labour frontbench amendment

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Requires the government to either give MPs a vote on the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on future UK-EU relations by 27 February, or make a statement saying there is no longer an agreement in principle with Brussels and so allow MPs to vote on – and amend – its planned next steps.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s amendments are considered unlikely to receive the necessary backing from Conservative backbenchers to succeed.

Conservative backbencher Ken Clarke’s amendment

Provides for MPs to take part in a ballot to rank their preferred approaches to Brexit before the end of the next debate on the deal negotiated with Brussels.

MPs who intended to propose an option would have to gather at least 50 signatures from colleagues to secure them a place on the ballot paper.

The favoured option identified through the ballot – which could be the government’s original deal – would then be put to a vote among MPs.

This amendment has the backing of some Labour backbenchers and Plaid Cymru MPs. Labour shadow ministers Helen Goodman and Emma Lewell-Buck also support the option, although it is not clear whether Mr Corbyn will throw his party’s support behind it to give it a chance of success.

SNP amendment

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UK Parliament

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Angus MacNeil tabled the amendment for the SNP

Calls on the government to pass a law leading to the Brexit process being halted.

This option is unlikely to succeed as it has the support of neither the Labour nor the Conservative leadership.

Conservative backbencher Anna Soubry’s amendment

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Anna Soubry’s amendment has the backing of Labour MPs including Chris Leslie, left, and Chuka Umunna, right

Instructs the government to publish within seven days “the most recent official briefing document relating to business and trade on the implications of a no-deal Brexit presented to cabinet”.

This has the backing of some mostly Remain-supporting Labour and Conservative backbenchers.

Labour backbencher Roger Godsiff’s amendment

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Suggests the government should request a postponement of the date the UK is due to leave the EU – 29 March – to hold a referendum on any final Brexit deal.

Options in this public poll would be to accept the deal, to reject it and remain in the EU, or to reject it and leave without a deal.

The winning option would require the support of more than half of those who voted, with the public asked to express their second preferences using the alternative vote system last used in a 2011 referendum over replacing the first-past-the-post model used in general elections.

There is no indication of any support for this amendment at this stage.

Does the government motion face defeat?

The government may well fight off these attempts to amend its motion.

But even if it does, it is not guaranteed to win the subsequent vote. Some Conservative Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) have indicated they will refuse to back the government.

They are angry because the motion not only supports the view backed by a majority of MPs last month that the government should seek an alternative to the “backstop”, but also a separate move to stop Brexit happening without a formal deal, which the Commons supported at the same time.

Most MPs want to avoid a no-deal scenario, fearing chaos at ports and disruption to business. However, some Brexiteers have played down that prospect, arguing it is an example of “Project Fear”, and say the no-deal option offers leverage in negotiations with Brussels.

“A senior ERG source says they haven’t decided whether to abstain or vote against, but they won’t back the government,” said BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.



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