Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal is “humiliating”, according to former Conservative Minister Andrew Mitchell.
And the Birmingham MP said there may need to be another referendum on whether to go ahead with Brexit – but only as a “last resort”.
Mr Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield and the only Conservative MP in Birmingham, spoke in the run-up to an historic vote on Tuesday January 15, when MPs will decide whether to accept Mrs May’s proposed EU withdrawal agreement.
But he predicted the House of Commons would reject the proposals, saying: “I’m astonished that the Prime Minister would bring to Parliament a deal from Brussels which she knows she cannot get through, and also apparently has no plan B.”
Mr Mitchell is a former Cabinet Minister who served as Chief Whip and International Development Secretary.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “All my instincts are to support the PM, but I have looked very carefully at this deal, I think it is a humiliating deal and I will not be able to support it as it stands.”
He described the proposed “backstop”, which could lead to the UK continuing to obey EU rules in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, as “extraordinarily worrying”.
And he said: “Above all the deal will enshrine all those divisions which have caused such trouble in Britain.”
Asked if he backed a second referendum, sometimes known as a People’s Vote, Mr Mitchell said: “I think that would be the last resort.”
He said Parliament should take control of the Brexit process and decide what happens next.
And he added: “If that doesn’t work then we could be driven to a People’s Vote, but it would be an extremely bad option.”
It comes as rebel Tories made clear they were ready to wage a parliamentary guerrilla campaign to prevent a no-deal break if Mrs May is defeated.
The Commons is beginning five days of debate on Wednesday, culminating in the “meaningful vote” next week.
The Prime Minister dramatically pulled a vote before Christmas, admitting she was heading for defeat in the face of opposition from both pro-Leave and pro-Remain Tories.
With the UK set to leave the EU on March 29, it is unclear what will happen if MPs reject the deal. One possibility could be simply to carry out Brexit without any agreement with the EU in place.
But MPs opposed to a no-deal break were flexing their muscles on Tuesday evening to inflict another bruising defeat on the Government.
Twenty Conservative MPs joined opposition parties in backing a cross-party amendment to the Finance Bill intended to limit the Government’s powers to make tax changes in the event of no-deal.
The rebels included former ministers Ken Clarke, Sir Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Sir Oliver Letwin and Sam Gyimah.
Sir Oliver, who supports Mrs May’s deal, said they were ready to table similar amendments to other Brexit legislation to warn they were prepared to put paid to “this disastrous proposal”.
“The majority in this House will sustain itself, and we will not allow a no-deal exit to occur on March 29,” he said.
Labour is expected to table a motion of no confidence in the Government if MPs reject the deal in Tuesday’s vote.
If this is approved by the House of Commons, it could lead to a general election.
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner said: “We’re now talking as if it is expected that the Government next Tuesday will be defeated on the most important piece of legislation that has come before Parliament probably in 50 or more years, that the Government has devoted two years of its time to try to negotiate, and we’re now almost accepting that this will simply be defeated and voted down.
“Obviously, the next thing to do immediately after that is for there to be a vote of confidence in the Government.”
Mr Gardiner said the “appropriate time” to table such a motion is when the “Government loses its key legislation and no longer commands a majority in the House of Commons”.