Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Matthew Weaver. I was held up this morning for domestic reasons.
After PMQs Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, will be making a statement about the Gosport War Memorial hospital deaths. That mean that the debate on the EU withdrawal bill won’t start until about 2pm, with the vote coming at around 3.30pm.
A note from the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, to the Parliamentary Labour party, shows the lengths the leadership are going to stress it is not trying to stop Brexit.
The language is directed at the Brexit rebels to try to get them on side. It says the voe “isn’t about stopping Brexit… isn’t about delaying Brexit or tying the hands of negotiators… not about the future of Theresa May or of this government.”
Welcome to Politics live as Theresa May faces a knife-edge Commons vote on Brexit as MPs decide on parliament’s role in Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Tory rebels reckon they could inflict a defeat on the government as the EU withdrawal bill returns to the Commons after the Lords again backed giving MPs a “meaningful” say on the final deal.
The debate is expected to start at 1pm according to Labour.
May staved off a Tory rebellion on the move last week but faces a crucial battle in the latest round of voting amid claims she failed to implement a compromise that opponents believed they were promised.
Brexiters are said to be increasingly confident of victory, but rebels are also bullish.
Phillip Lee, who resigned as a government minister in order to back a strengthened role for parliament, acknowledged there had been a concerted effort to win over would-be rebels, including the “dark arts” of persuasion in the corridors of power.
But he claimed the rebels may have the strength to defeat the prime minister – who he said he still counts as a friend – unless an eleventh-hour concession is agreed. Lee told BBC Radio 4’s Today:
We were always going to get the normal dark arts of Westminster taking place, fully expected, but my understanding is that the position taken by a number of colleagues is solid, which is why the government is still in negotiations.
Asked if there were enough rebels to defeat the government, he said:
Potentially, yes. But … this for me personally is a position of integrity, that I think Parliament deserves to have a proper role in this process, a truly meaningful vote.
Dominic Grieve, one of the leading figures in the stand-off, said he expected negotiations to “go right to the wire”.
Tory Remainer Anna Soubry posted a lengthy statement about why she will rebel and denied being a “traitor”.
The prime minister’s spokesman said the government did not intend to concede ground.
Andrew Sparrow has been delayed coming to work today but should be here within an hour.