MPs have devised a unique way of voting at Westminster in a bid to identify a Plan B for Brexit.
Mrs May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, is being seen as a trusted compere for the exercise which has been designed to cut through the squabbling and rivalry between backers of different ideas.
Under the plan MPs will stage a “multiple choice exam” on Wednesday evening by adapting deferred divisions, which use paper forms rather than have MPs squeeze through the division lobbies.
The new plans - which could include softer Brexits like a Norway deal, leaving on no-deal terms and scrapping Brexit - would be proposed in motions and selected by the Speaker if they commanded cross-party backing.
Crucially, the paper voting would allow votes on all the motions to be counted simultaneously, thus preventing MPs from using the “last man standing” strategy to try to knockout rival ideas and force their backers to rally round lone plan.
Oliver Letwin, the architect of the plan, told the Standard: “The hope is that people will vote for what they can tolerate, and not just their own favourite scheme. The important thing is for the House to discover where there is a plan that can attract a majority behind it.”
Mr Letwin, who backs a close trading relationship dubbed Common Market 2.0, said: “I don’t think there is a runaway favourite. Therefore the question is whether something can get across the line. I think the most likely thing to receive a majority is a Norway-plus arrangement, but it’s by no means a slam-dunk.”
MPs backing the idea will meet early next week to tell EU negotiator Michel Barnier that there is a process in place to find a Plan B and to explain how it would work.