Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has said that MPs will not accept “window-dressing”, after the prime minister has suggested that she is seeking "changes" to the controversial backstop, rather than its total removal from the agreement.
The MP for Harwich and North Essex told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “If the deal is unchanged and there is only window-dressing, it will not go through.
“In those working groups that have been meeting in Downing Street at the moment - that has been made very clear –there has got to be substantive change.
“The motion said the backstop had to be replaced so I don’t understand why the prime minister has not stuck to that wording.
“If the backstop remains in place and operational then the deal won’t go through.”
He added: “I don’t suppose this is going to be settled by the time we have another meaningful vote this week but as long as the prime minister can report substantive progress towards replacing the backstop or seriously altering it, I think we will be in the game.
“Otherwise I think parliament will simply reject the withdrawal agreement again and we will be back at square one.”
'Progress is being made'
Mr Jenkin added that the government is still "hanging onto" its old negotiating position.
"The frustrating thing at the moment is the Malthouse Compromise working group - which includes people like Damian Green and Nicky Morgan who are very strong Remainers – are putting proposals to the government that would avoid the need for a hard border in Northern Ireland and would completely replace the backstop," he said.
"It seems that they are not negotiating with the EU, they are negotiating with the government.
"The government is still hanging onto the position it negotiated in the agreement.
"But progress is being made in these meetings. All the objections that have been put up to this new plan have been dealt with."