British legislators have slashed the time Prime Minister Theresa May's government will have to formulate a plan B if her widely criticised Brexit deal is rejected in a crucial parliamentary vote next week.
The prime minister has already pulled the vote once with defeat looming, and a loss for the government would plunge Britain into "uncharted territory", according to May, putting the whole process up for grabs.
Furthermore, it is expected that if and when Mrs May produces an alternative plan, the Speaker will again incur the wrath of Government ministers and loyal Tories by ruling that MPs can seek to amend the PM's new proposal, meaning that a range of options, including extending Article 50 and staging a People's Vote, could be put forward.
The House of Commons vote on Mrs May's Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, following five days of debate.
Downing Street played down the impact of the vote, which reduced the time limit for the government to respond from 21 days.
The main source of contention is the plan's safety net "backstop" measure - which would guarantee no hard border is reintroduced on the island of Ireland in the event that post-Brexit trade negotiations between the United Kingdom and the bloc prove unsuccessful.
The development came after 17 Tory rebels helped pass Mr Grieve's amendment by 308 votes to 297.
The date of the vote was pushed back until after Christmas after minister accepted that the deal was heading for a crushing defeat.
"I disagree with that, and so I think do the vast majority of Members of Parliament".
Mr Grieve said the amendment was an attempt to "accelerate the process" if the vote was lost so as to avoid the prospects of a no-deal Brexit.
50% of MPs, and 80% of Conservative MPs, said that customs union membership would not honour the referendum result, while 58% of MPs stated that a Brexit deal similar to membership of the European Economic Area would mean "we haven't truly left the European Union and honoured the referendum result".
It looks like the government's charm offensive, created to win over the DUP, is dead on arrival.
The government also offered a concession to Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, saying the British province would have "a strong role" in any decision between triggering the backstop or extending a transition period if a future relationship with the European Union is not in place by December 2020.
But the DUP, which is propping up Mrs May's minority government through a confidence and supply agreement, immediately rejected the offer.
"I don't think the British public are served by fantasies about magical, alternative deals that are somehow going to spring out of a cupboard in Brussels", Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said in an interview with BBC radio. That is why we are taking every opportunity possible in Parliament to prevent no deal. But there is little indication that many MPs have been swayed and the deal is nearly certain to be defeated on Tuesday. Ms.
May called off a vote on her deal in December after admitting that it "would be rejected by a significant margin" if MPs voted on it.