Parliament is unlikely to have a second binding vote on Theresa May’s Brexitdeal until February, Downing Street has said, playing down the significance of the motion that will be voted on next week.
May’s spokesman said the vote due to be held on 29 January was not “a second meaningful vote” and the government’s motion would not spell out in detail the next stage of the prime minister’s plan to get a Brexit agreement through parliament.
Instead, it is likely to be a vehicle for multiple solutions from backbench and opposition MPs, who will attempt to amend it. Downing Street said the prime minister would continue to hold talks with MPs across parties.
“It is an ongoing process,” the prime minister’s spokesman said. “But it is clear already that a significant number of colleagues have expressed concerns about the backstop and that is one of the areas we are going to be looking at.
“In her statement after the results of the vote last week, she said she would be exploring the concerns of MPs and ideas they were bringing forward, and if necessary discussing those with the EU.”
It is possible No 10 may seek to use any backbench amendments to May’s motion that seek to put a time limit on the backstop as a way to demonstrate to Brussels that such changes would allow the deal to pass.
The Conservative backbencher Andrew Murrison had proposed such an amendment during the meaningful vote last week, but it was not selected by the Speaker. Any new backstop amendment to the upcoming motion would also be subject to the Speaker’s selection.
The timing of the next meaningful vote may be taken out of No 10’s hands. MPs could attempt to amend the motion on Tuesday next week in order to set a specific date for the vote. The February recess could also be cancelled to allow more parliamentary time.
Several amendments are expected to be put down after the prime minister’s motion is published on Monday. Labour will put down one setting out its version of Brexit, including a customs union, and others could be put down by backbenchers, including the option of a second referendum.
Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, is planning to put down a tightly worded amendment to give time for a bill that would give parliament the power to support an extension of article 50.
The move, devised with the former Conservative minister Nick Boles, would mean that if no deal were in place before the end of February, the government would have to put a binding motion before parliament to seek an extension of article 50 until the end of 2019.
However, a more radical amendment by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve would allow a motion put forward by a minority of 300 MPs from at least five parties – including 10 Tory MPs – to be debated as the first item for MPs in the Commons the day after the vote.
Grieve’s amendment would in effect give parliament the power to hold “indicative votes” on which Brexit options can command a majority in parliament, such as a Norway-style deal or a second referendum.