Theresa May is preparing to pump millions of pounds into the constituencies of Labour MPs as she scrambles to win support for her Brexit deal.
The cash for deprived Leave-backing areas is designed to entice wavering Opposition politicians to get on board with the PM’s plan.
Fresh commitments to protect workers’ rights are also being mooted as the clock runs down towards the UK’s departure date.
The ‘pork barrel’ tactic is effectively an admission that Mrs May cannot get a package through Parliament with just Tory and DUP votes.
The move was hailed by Labour MPs, with John Mann urging the PM: ‘Show us the money. A fund of sufficient size to transform our communities.
‘Our areas voted leave and it is time that we had the investment we need.’
Labour’s Stephen Hepburn also made clear he would be bidding for cash for Jarrow.
‘More funding is needed to deal with the maintenance of roads in this area,’ he tweeted.
The wrangling comes amid increasingly frantic efforts to forge a cross-party consensus.
There is speculation that Jeremy Corbyn could be softening his position, after years of demanding a full customs union and the ‘exact same benefits’ as current membership terms. He pointedly refused to sack shadow ministers who defied orders and helped the government during crunch Commons votes on Tuesday.
Labour MP Lisa Nandy, whose Wigan constituency voted 64 per cent to Leave in 2016, insisted her party now had to ‘make real choices’ and ‘respect the result of the referendum’.
The PM could target extra cash at the Leave-backing constituencies of Melanie Onn (left) and Gloria de Piero (right), who were among the shadow ministers who abstained in a vote on delaying Brexit this week
Theresa May (pictured) will persuade Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal by offering money for their constituencies, it has been claimed
Shadow minister Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, was also absent for the crucial vote in the Commons this week. John Mann (right) welcomed the prospect of money for Leave-backing constituencies
Mrs May is battling to win a majority for her Brexit deal amid fierce opposition from many of her own Conservative backbenchers.
Number 10 aides believe the backing of 20 Labour MPs could be enough to take a Brexit deal over the line to avoid a cliff-edge exit on March 29, The Times reported.
A Government source told the newspaper: ‘There’s a willingness to look again at coalfield communities and make good the promises that former Labour governments failed to deliver.
‘It’s about allowing Labour MPs representing Brexit communities to show that they have extracted something tangible in return for their vote.’
Who were the Labour rebels aganst delaying Brexit this week?
- Ian Austin, Dudley North
- Kevin Barron, Rother Valley
- Ronnie Campbell, Blyth Valley
- Rosie Cooper, West Lancashire
- Jim Fitzpatrick, Poplar and Limehouse
- Caroline Flint, Don Valley
- Roger Godsiff, Birmingham Hall Green
- Stephen Hepburn, Jarrow
- Kate Hoey, Vauxhall
- John Mann, Bassetlaw
- Dennis Skinner, Bolsover
- Laura Smith, Crewe and Nantwich
- Gareth Snell, Stoke-on-Trent Central
- Graham Stringer, Blackley and Broughton
Ms Nandy told ITV’s Peston programme it was now ‘incumbent on the Labour Party now to start making real choices about what it is that we want’.
‘There is still a debate going on within the Labour Party about whether we respect the result of the referendum or whether we have a second referendum,’ she said.
‘We went into the 2017 election saying that we respected the result of the referendum… My view is that that is important.’
Fourteen Labour rebels broke with Jeremy Corbyn to block a proposed Brexit delay in a Commons vote on Tuesday night.
A handful of shadow ministers who appeared to defy him by skipping the vote, including Melanie Onn, Mike Kane, and Gloria de Piero.
MailOnline understands none of them had permission to be absent. Tory sources confirmed that they were not ‘paired’ with other MPs – the mechanism for balancing out votes when people cannot attend the Commons.
Seven Labour MPs also voted with the Tories to back the Brady amendment calling for changes to the Irish backstop.
Tuesday’s Commons vote demanded the replacement of the backstop with ‘alternative arrangements’ to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Mrs May is due to report back to Parliament on her negotiations with the EU on February 13, with a further series of votes by MPs expected the following day.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, pictured in Brussels yesterday, rejected the call by MPs for the Brexit deal to be renegotiated
But her plan to rewrite the deal has met a wall of resistance from the EU, with the continent’s most senior politicians and officials lining up to insist the deal cannot be unpicked.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker described the Agreement reached after 18 months of negotiation last November as ‘the best and only deal possible’.
Mr Juncker said he would stay in close contact with Mrs May and would ‘listen to her ideas’.
Having boycotted earlier cross-party talks, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ready to discuss a ‘sensible’ approach to Brexit after MPs voted on Tuesday night to rule out no deal.
Following the meeting, Mr Corbyn said he is ‘suspicious’ that Mrs May is trying to ‘run down the clock’ on Brexit.