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Theresa May's Plan B offers little change

Having taken a ferocious drubbing over her Withdrawal Agreement last week, which was rejected by an unprecedented 230 vote margin, Theresa May returned to Westminster yesterday to present her Plan B on delivering Brexit.

Anyone hoping for a completely different approach which fully acknowledged the scale of her defeat last Tuesday, will have been left disappointed.

Plan B seems to be a strategy of pressing ahead with Plan A - the Withdrawal Agreement - but with the hope of eliciting some change to the backstop.

Mrs May appears to be gambling on achieving some concessions from the EU which would be enough to satisfy Brexiteers and the DUP.

It is not clear what she is basing this gamble on as the EU has so far refused to countenance any change to the agreement.

Michel Barnier yesterday ruled out the prospect of a separate deal between London and Dublin on the backstop saying the EU 'negotiate as one'.

However, Poland's foreign minister broke ranks on the issue, calling for a time-limited backstop but this was swiftly dismissed by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

While the EU is insisting the agreement cannot be renegotiated, it is offering the possibility of addressing UK concerns in the political declaration.

Mrs May tried to shut down a number of options being put forward by MPs, including extending or revoking Article 50 or taking a no deal off the table.

There is no doubt that we are seeing some high stakes brinkmanship here with Jeremy Corbyn deciding it is in his party's best interests to opt out of talks with the government at a time of crisis, a view not shared by many of his MPs.

Meanwhile, considerable political manoeuvring is taking place with even a rewrite of the Good Friday Agreement being floated as a potential idea.

While this report was dismissed by Number 10, the very fact that it was mentioned at all is an alarming sign.

The question for Mrs May is what happens next if her Plan B also bites the dust?

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