Government agrees to split crunch Commons debate on Brexit over two days after fury at attempt to hold 15 votes in a single day

The Tory chief whip Julian Smith told MPs they will still only get 12 hours to discuss the amendments made by the Lords to Theresa May’s flagship legislation – but Parliament will now not being sitting until gone midnight next Tuesday.

Among the amendments to the EU withdrawal bill be voted on are motions to keep Britain tied to the single market and customs union after Brexit, as well as enshrining EU human rights law in UK statute.

The Prime Minister faces potential defeat on some of them as pro-EU Tory rebels threaten to vote with Labour and tie her hands.

This afternoon several of the most prominent pro-EU Tories, Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve and Antoinette Sandbach were seen arriving in Downing Street for talks in Number 10.

But opposition MPs accused the Government of trying to dodge proper scrutiny of its Brexit strategy by scheduling all the votes on the same day – allowing less than an hour of debate per amendment.

And arch-Remainer Peter Mandelson claimed Mrs May would "pay a price" – warning that his fellow Lords may defy the Commons by refusing to withdraw their wrecking amendments even if MPs vote them down.

The former Cabinet minister and Labour peer said: "The Lords will take a very dim view of the seriousness of their amendments being considered and then dismissed in a single day.

"If that's the way the Government wants to play this, it will certainly encourage the Lords in pressing their amendments and asking the Commons to think again.

"It would be provocative – and they would pay a price for it."

Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman accused the Government of a “shameful decision”, claiming ministers want to “limit the chance for proper debate and scrutiny”.

And Labour MP David Lammy, a supporter of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: "This shows total contempt of Parliament to try and railroad 15 amendments through Parliament in just a single session.”

Today the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons said it would be unsafe to hold all the votes in a single session.

Valerie Vaz wrote to John Bercow “raising concerns about the safety and security of members” having to sit so late into the night.

And it appears Mr Smith, the PM’s chief enforcer, has listened to the concerns – altering the House of Commons schedule to split the debate over next Tuesday and Wednesday.

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