UK Politics

Where the Conservative tribes stand on Brexit

Theresa May faces a daunting task to get her Brexit deal ratified by Parliament after it was rejected by 230 votes. It has not been made easier by the fact that the 118 Tory rebels who voted against her on Tuesday can't agree on an alternative plan.

Does that mean it's dead? Probably in its current form, but Mrs May is clearly not giving up on it just yet. It is on life support until someone can come up with something they can all agree on.

Here is a list of where the Tory rebels who voted against Mrs May's deal on Tuesday stood, based on their public statements - and the number who voted for the deal.

The BBC's researchers have come up with estimates for how many belong to each group.

It is a fluid situation, and some who voted for the deal may now be ready to back other options.

It should also be noted that some MPs cited multiple reasons for voting against Mrs May's deal, while others focused more on the alternative deal they would prefer - and seven Tory MPs have been silent, as far as we can tell, on their reason for opposing the deal.

Theresa May's deal

Number: 202 (includes three Labour MPs and three Independents)

Image copyright Reuters

Tuesday's vote was backed by 196 Tory MPs, including about 100 on the ministerial payroll.

Lest we forget, it would see the UK leaving the EU single market and customs union, with much of the detail of how that would work in practice being worked out after 29 March, when a 21-month transition period would kick in.

It also guarantees citizens' rights and commits the UK to paying a £39bn "divorce bill". There is also the small matter of the Northern Ireland backstop, but more of that later.

Scrap or time limit the backstop

Estimated number: 45

The Irish border "insurance policy" is the poison pill preventing the Democratic Unionist Party from backing Mrs May's deal. Plenty of Conservative MPs want to see it scrapped, although some could get by with a time limit on it.

Mrs May would probably drop the backstop in a heartbeat if she thought she could but it is not really in her hands. She would need to convince the EU to agree to it and that seems unlikely right now.

The 'better deal' group

Estimated number: 39

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Former Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured) has been banging the drum for a Canada-style free trade deal for some time now - and he is not alone. Other ministers who quit the cabinet in protest at Mrs May's deal, including Boris Johnson, are also in the Canada camp.

They want Theresa May to use her thumping defeat on Tuesday as a bargaining chip to have one last go at getting a better deal out of Brussels. If she can't manage that, then she should step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, they argue.

Canada has a looser trading arrangement with the EU than the one being proposed by Mrs May but with "zero tariffs and zero quotas" on all imports and exports.

Mr Davis wants what he calls "Canada plus plus plus" - the same deal as Canada but extra provision for financial services.

Mrs May has always ruled out the Canada option, arguing that it would not solve the Irish border issue.

But these MPs think the Irish border issue has been overblown.

Leave without a deal

Estimated number: 17

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A no-deal Brexit is the preferred position of dyed-in-the-wool Eurosceptics such as Sir Bill Cash (pictured), who dismiss fears of economic meltdown as "project fear" and insist Britain could thrive under World Trade Organization rules. Some cabinet members have said there is nothing to fear from a no-deal Brexit, although they say they would prefer a deal.

Mrs May has refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit, even though she does not want it to happen. But as things stand, Britain will leave without a deal on 29 March if MPs can't agree on an alternative.

Hold another referendum

Estimated number: 9

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Leading rebels, such as Dominic Grieve (pictured) and Sarah Wollaston, have come out in favour of this option - although more may be waiting in the wings.

Mrs May could not have been more clear in her rejection of another referendum. But the decision could be taken out of her hands, if the Labour leadership got behind this option, creating a likely parliamentary majority for it. That's a pretty big "if" as things stand, however.

Norway option

Only one Tory MP, Robert Halfon, voted against the deal because he prefers the Norway option but other supporters of it voted for Mrs May's deal.

MPs who currently support the Norway option, or who have expressed support for it in the past, include Nick Boles, John Stevenson, Kevin Hollinrake, Sir Oliver Letwin and George Eustice.

The Norway model is about as close as you can get to the EU without actually being a member state.

A softer Brexit that would see the UK remaining in the customs union might be something that a majority of MPs would support, although few Tory MPs have publicly backed it.

It would cause anger among Tory Brexiteers but they have lost the ability to get rid of Mrs May in a leadership contest, after last year's failed confidence vote led by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

There might also be cabinet walkouts, among the more ardent Brexiteers, but Mrs May has ridden those out before.

Update 18 January 2019:This article has been amended to provide more detail on the number of MPs who have backed a Norway option and make it clearer that some MPs may now be ready to back other options.