THERESA May will today unveil an alternative way for the UK to leave the EU as it was revealed further splits have emerged in her Cabinet over her Brexit strategy.

The Prime Minister was given three working days by parliament to come up with a Plan B following the historic defeat on her withdrawal agreement last week.

She is expected to suggest to try and abandon the Irish backstop, the insurance policy to keep an open border in Ireland in the event of no future trade deal being established between the EU and the UK. Instead she wants to offer a bilateral trade agreement to Ireland that would remove the need for the backstop and hence persuade DUP and backbench Tory MPs to back her deal.

Chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady, yesterday said he believes May can pass her Brexit deal if the Irish backstop “can be sorted out”.

Sir Graham, appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, said it was important not to “misread” May’s record breaking Commons defeat.

He said: “So much of the vote against was from people who simply cannot support a potentially permanent backstop. If that can be sorted out then I think we might get that withdrawal agreement through.”

Sir Graham went on to say that it was in Ireland’s interests to help the UK leave the EU with a deal. He said: “Ireland would be hurt far more by a no-deal departure on World Trade Organisation terms for the United Kingdom. Most Irish trade comes via the United Kingdom so there is a very strong incentive for the Republic to see the United Kingdom with an agreement and I think that’s really common sense from their point of view.”

READ MORE: Cross-party MPs hatch plan to prevent no-deal Brexit

However, the EU is highly unlikely to drop the backstop which they insist is a central part of the legally-binding withdrawal agreement.

A report in the Sunday Times said May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell – aware of the EU’s stance – tried to persuade May to support a customs union with the EU, which would secure the support of Labour and also prevent the need for a hard border in Ireland or extra barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland – a key concern of the DUP.

The National:

Gavin Barwell is pushing for customs union membership

The paper said May rejected that suggestion and sided with party chairman Brandon Lewis and chief whip Julian Smith, who warned her the move would split the Conservative party. However, by rejecting the suggestion, the PM could provoke a rebellion among her Cabinet who back a softer Brexit.

Meanwhile, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab yesterday called on the PM to “rule out extending Article 50” which would postpone leaving the EU.

The Tory former Cabinet minister branded moves by MPs to push the Prime Minister into extending Britain’s membership of the European Union as an “extraordinary and undemocratic thing to do”.

Raab, speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, said: “If there’s an attempt to reverse the referendum, stop Brexit altogether, I think that would cut across not only the democratic mandate, the biggest in history we had. I think also if you look at current public opinion and how it’s shifted by two to one as I said, people want us to respect the referendum.” He went on to say that to break the deadlock with Brussels the negotiating team should be changed: “For all the great work the civil servants have done, I think to close this deal it needs to be politically led and driven, so taken into the control of the politicians.”

Raab later said he believed there would be some “short term risks” of a no-deal Brexit, but said they would be “manageable”.

He said: “The advantage of course if we did end up leaving on WTO terms, and I said that’s not my preferred outcome, is we’d immediately seize the opportunities and take back control of our laws, our borders, to have an independent free trade policy around the world. I think for the public Brexit would be delivered, we could move on.”

Asked if he was setting himself up for the Tory leadership, Raab said: “No, what I’m trying to do is, we talk so much about doom and gloom, about the risk and the downside of Brexit, we’ve lost the vision, we’ve lost the optimism, the hope that fired up 17 million people-plus to vote for the biggest democratic mandate in our history.” There were signs of hope for May yesterday when Jacob Rees-Mogg dropped a hint his group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs could be willing to strike a deal with the PM. The Tory MP, who leads the European Research Group, said the deal “would be better than not leaving at all”.

Hear what The National editor Callum Baird and columnist Paul Kavanagh (the Wee Ginger Dug) have to say on this week's political developments ...