Brexit news latest: Amber Rudd urges MPs across parties to 'forge a consensus' to avoid no-deal.... as five Cabinet ministers 'consider second referendum'

Ella Wills

MPs across the political divide should attempt to build a Brexit consensus, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said as she warned Britain's departure from the EU is "in danger of getting stuck".

Amber Rudd said it is possible Theresa May will ultimately be unable to persuade enough of her own MPs to back her deal, suggesting it is time to "abandon outrage and accusations" and "try something different".

Ms Rudd said a "practical, sensible and healing approach" was needed for MPs to coalesce around a deal to avert the danger of Britain crashing out of the EU.

It comes as five Cabinet ministers are understood to be considering a second referendum if MPs cannot agree a deal in the next month.

Theresa May arrives at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels on Friday (REUTERS)

Ms Rudd, Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Greg Clarke, and David Lidington have all stepped up discussions over whether to back the poll following Mrs May's narrow victory in the confidence vote earlier this week, the Times reported.

Taking a stand: Amber Rudd is the latest MP to favour a Norway-like arrangement (Reuters )

The Work and Pensions Secretary is the most senior Conservative so far to suggest support may need to be won from outside the Tory-DUP alliance in order to get a deal over the line in the Commons.

Former chancellor Ken Clarke has urged Mrs May to reach out to Labour MPs to try to find common ground to move forward, while former education secretary Nicky Morgan said "proper discussions" were needed to secure cross-party support.

After calling off a vote in the face of defeat earlier this week, Mrs May's hopes for a last-minute alteration to the Withdrawal Agreement, the Brexit legal text, appeared to be dashed on Friday when EU leaders said negotiations could not be reopened.

The PM said talks will continue in the coming days on "how to obtain the further assurances that the UK Parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal".

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria (Getty Images,)

The impasse centres around the provisions for a backstop to customs arrangements for the Irish border, which are unacceptable to hardline Brexiteers and Mrs May's DUP allies.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Ms Rudd warned that the country will face "serious trouble" if MPs "dig in against the Prime Minister's deal and then hunker down in their different corners".

The Remain supporter, who has previously spoken of the merits of a Norway-style model as a "Plan B", said she still supported the PM's deal because it can deliver Brexit and "allow us to move forward" - but conceded some of her colleagues may remain opposed to it.

She wrote: "We need to try something different. Something that people do in the real world all the time, but which seems so alien in our political culture - to engage with others and be willing to forge a consensus.

"That requires politicians to be more prepared to work with anyone who - like me - is willing to accept you can't always get what you want.

"It means taking a more practical, sensible and healing approach."

Amber Rudd (AFP/Getty Images)

Calling for a "safe environment" for debate to be created in Parliament, Ms Rudd appeared to back calls for a series of votes, advocated by former prime minister Tony Blair among others, to eliminate options and arrive at a "workable and possible" deal.

The former home secretary said that, while her suggestion could see her accused of "treachery", her fellow MPs should ignore "siren voices calling us to the rocks of no deal".

The PM cancelled a Commons vote on her Brexit deal after she admitted it faced a "significant" defeat, but was told by the EU on Friday that the legal text of the deal could not be changed.

Nick Boles, a former Tory skills minister, said Mrs May needed "to stop thinking of herself as a Prime Minister at the head of a single party government and more like a US president trying to build a congressional coalition for a major legislative reform".

Ms Morgan told The Independent that "the only way the prime minister gets any kind of deal through is with cross-party support and proper discussions to secure that now need to start".

George Freeman, a former head of policy for Mrs May, tweeted that the PM should "pivot to a cross-party Brexit Plan B".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May's deal is "dead in the water" and urged her to put it to a vote in Parliament before Christmas.