Reports suggest the PM wants to tweak Good Friday Agreement for support for her deal

PUBLISHED: 08:32 21 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:46 21 January 2019

Theresa May arrives to attend a church service near her Maidenhead constituency. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire.

Theresa May arrives to attend a church service near her Maidenhead constituency. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire.

Theresa May is to set out her next steps to build a Commons majority for a Brexit deal amid signs she is still unwilling to give ground on her central demands.

Following the crushing defeat last week of her agreement with Brussels, May will make statements to the House explaining how she intends to proceed.

She will also table a “neutral” motion to be debated and voted on - along with any amendments tabled by MPs - on January 29.

Government sources said she would be holding further talks with MPs, as well as business leaders and trade unionists, throughout the week in an attempt to find a way forward.

But after she briefed the cabinet in a conference call on Sunday about her first round of cross-party contacts last week, there was little expectation she was ready to offer concessions that could win over opposition MPs.

Instead reports suggested she was preparing to press for changes to the Northern Ireland backstop in the hope she can win round Tory Brexiteers and her allies in the DUP who voted against her original deal.

The Daily Telegraph reported she was even considering trying to amend the Good Friday Agreement - although the paper quoted senior sources as saying the idea was a “non-starter”.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney was adamant over the weekend the backstop - intended to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic - was an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Best for Britain supporter Owen Smith MP said the prime minister is playing a dangerous game.

“It’s clear she values keeping herself in a job over the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland. That’s shameless and doesn’t respect the office she represents.

“If the prime minister is planning on recklessly toying with the Good Friday Agreement, it’s all the more reason to take Brexit out of her hands and put it back to the public.”

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