Theresa May is considering demands from Labour MPs for a parliamentary vote on the UK’s future relationship with the EU as the price for backing her Brexit deal, as she faces an uphill battle to win over Conservative Eurosceptics.
The prime minister has been told by Labour MPs that a package of greater guarantees for workers post-Brexit, due to be unveiled on Wednesday, is only enough to convince perhaps three or four more to vote for her withdrawal bill.
She was also warned that her offer of £1.6bn to towns could actually have been counterproductive, as Labour MPs considering backing her deal would now be open to accusations that they had been bribed by No 10.
However, one Labour MP involved in discussions said the key to unlocking the backing of dozens more MPs representing leave-voting areas was the promise of a parliamentary vote on the future relationship with the EU.
A Downing Street source said May had promised an increased role for parliament on the political declaration but not yet set out what this would involve.
May is facing a huge challenge to win enough support for her Brexit deal next week, as some hardline Conservative Eurosceptics indicated on Monday that they may prefer a delay to leaving the EU than supporting a withdrawal deal that fails to solve the Irish backstop issue.
A source close to one cabinet minister told the Guardian there seemed to “no chance” that the deal would pass next week but No 10 had a “bunker mentality” and was still focused on trying to pick off individual MPs to back the deal.
Several prominent members of the European Research Group of MPs, including Steve Baker and Owen Paterson, approvingly quoted an article by pro-Brexit lawyer, Martin Howe, which sets out the case for Eurosceptics to hold their nerve if they are not satisfied with concessions from the EU.