Full Interview: Prime Minister Theresa May

"I am truly sad beyond words that our wonderful country has reached this pass", he said. "We should not let the search for a ideal Brexit prevent a good Brexit that delivers for the British people". "In turn, that would mean the most damaging uncertainty economically".

"The backstop is something nobody wants to go into in the first place, and we will be working to make sure that we don't go into it".

An independent country should clearly have the right to negotiate trade deals with other countries across the world, so if there is any ambiguity on this point, Parliament is unlikely to approve the deal.

However, intense opposition to the deal from all sides of the House has made its passage next week extremely precarious. Britain would be the only advanced economy trading on WTO terms, Hammond says.

Stephens added: "The bar will probably spend much of the Christmas break trying to work out who it was that actually did the work!"

Mr Whittaker (Calder Valley) said: "As the deal is only about the withdrawal and implementation period, I am quite pragmatic about the agreement".

It comes after Mrs May delivered her opening address on Tuesday, a week before MPs are set vote on whether to pass her deal on December 11.

"People have a concern of the backstop, that we could be in it indefinitely".

Next Tuesday, MPs will vote on Mrs May's deal and is widely expected that she will lose the vote.

But she emphasised neither side wanted this to happen, and repeated that the withdrawal agreement struck with Brussels last month was the only viable option. "She is obviously aware that there is strength of feeling on this issue".

May's offer would allow MPs to direct her to extend the transition period instead.

It would also protect current trade links with the European Union - but it would fail to deliver on key Brexiteer promises over free movement and sovereignty.

Citizens affected - those who are resident in Britain before the end of March - will have until December 2020 to apply for a status under the plans, according to Barclay. Over the decades, the European Union has evolved into a quasi-government.

Backing Norway, he said: 'We understand that there are at least 10 Cabinet ministers who are supporting this arrangement'.

Barnier's speech to the EU's committee of the regions was followed by a debate on the deal involving politicians from across the continent. "This has serious implications for the future of the country", he said.

The symbolic vote - which was not supported by the Scottish Conservatives allied to May - was a rare example of near-unity on a constitutional issue in the nationalist-led devolved Parliament. "After almost two years of long and complex negotiations, he would take us back to square one".

What are the possible outcomes of the vote?

Within moments, Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, took to Twitter, arguing the advice revealed "central weaknesses" in the United Kingdom government's Brexit deal.

The Government has gone to extraordinary lengths in an effort to limit the rebellion next week.

Another fellow Cabinet minister, global trade secretary Liam Fox, also backed the deal, warning there was a "natural "Remain" majority" in Parliament and any attempt to overturn the 2016 referendum vote in favour of Brexit would be a "democratic affront".

If the ruling follows that advice, it will embolden those fighting to reverse Brexit via a second referendum.

May hinted she might give parliament a greater role in deciding whether to start the backstop or extend a transition period under which more European Union membership terms would apply.

"The backstop is talked about as if it's automatic".

"There are questions about how decisions are taken as to whether we go into the backstop, because that isn't an automatic", she said. "I'm looking at the role of Parliament in that choice", she told the Today programme. While she has publicly insisted that she will press ahead, the sources signalled that abandoning the vote was a possibility. "The question is what will the Brits do if the deal fails in their parliament".

MPs have restarted their five-day long debate on Theresa May's Brexit deal in the House of Commons.

  • Wendy Palmer