Theresa May is heading for a crushing defeat on Brexit vote D-day in the Commons, despite a series of last-minute appeals to rebel Tory MPs to back her EU withdrawal agreement.
The latest Sky News analysis suggests the prime minister is facing a loss by a majority of 226 votes – that is based on MPs stating their intentions publicly or to our team.
That figure comes with caveats – there could well be some abstentions and MPs can change their minds without making it public
A defeat is likely to be followed by Jeremy Corbyn calling a vote of no confidence in the government.
Mrs May’s allies insist that whatever the scale of the defeat she has no intention of quitting or calling a general election, but she will come under enormous pressure to unveil a Brexit Plan B.
On the eve of the historic vote, the prime minister appealed to MPs during a Commons statement to take a “second look” at her agreement, despite admitting it was not perfect and was a compromise.
Then, in an emotional speech to Conservative MPs that was described by her supporters as a “bravura performance”, she urged them to “keep Jeremy Corbyn as far away from No. 10 as possible”.
Winding up day four of the five-day Commons debate on the withdrawal agreement in the early hours of the morning, the chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs: “We as a House now need to move swiftly and decisively to get behind the deal.
“To make the tough choices that are needed to simultaneously deliver the Brexit people voted for, to protect our
economy and our national security and to give them the brighter future they were promised.”
The PM’s final appeal to MPs to back her deal will come amid what is certain to be an atmosphere of tension and high drama, as she winds up the final day of the debate before the key vote.
There will also be voting on four amendments, including demands to for the Irish backstop to only be a temporary arrangement, which could mean Mrs May loses by a much smaller margin.
Labour MP Hilary Benn confirmed on Tuesday morning he had withdrawn his amendment which was thought to have been favoured by government whips.
If successful, it would have blocked the vote on Mrs May’s deal and stopped a no-deal scenario, potentially saving the PM from an embarrassing defeat.
Confirming he had pulled his amendment, Mr Benn said: “If the prime minister loses tonight the government must reach out across the House to try and find a way forward. If this doesn’t happen, then parliament will have to take the lead.”
The prime minister is expected to make a Commons statement immediately after the vote and is likely to pledge to go back to Brussels to try to win legally binding guarantees on the Irish backstop.
But opposition leaders, with the support of Tory Remainers including Kenneth Clarke, are likely to call on her to delay the UK’s divorce from the EU by asking for an extension of the Article 50 process.
Before Tuesday’s debate began, the prime minister chaired a meeting of her cabinet, with ministers said to be split over the government’s Plan B in the event of a defeat.
Mrs May is said to be hoping to force a second Commons vote if she loses, pinning her hopes on new concessions from the German chancellor Angela Merkel, to whom she spoke on Sunday.
But in the final hours before the vote, the PM and senior ministers will hold dozens of meetings with wavering MPs, one-on-one and in groups, in a last-ditch attempt to reduce the scale of the government defeat.
Ministers are also likely to appeal again to pro-Brexit Labour MPs to back the deal, a move condemned by Mr Corbyn at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party as an attempt to blackmail the party’s MPs.
But despite all the appeals, the PM’s attempts to shore up her deal appear doomed and an alliance of Tory Brexiteers, the Democratic Unionist Party and Opposition MPs looks set to inflict a damaging defeat.
:: Follow and watch the Brexit vote live with a special programme on Sky News from 6-10pm on Tuesday evening.