THE EU gave Theresa May a choice last week - secure MPs’ backing for the withdrawal agreement or come up with an alternative way forward if it is to avoid crashing out of the bloc on 12 April.

With May’s deal looking unlikely to pass, attention has turned to what kind of new plan the Commons could support.

Downing Street is considering holding a series of “indicative votes” to let MPs give their views on how to proceed. This would involve MPs voting on a series of possible Brexit outcomes to determine which was the most popular. The votes would not be legally binding but would give ministers a strong sense of what kind of outcome, if any, could command a Commons majority.

Pro-EU cabinet ministers including Greg Clark, Damian Hinds and Amber Rudd have been proposing this approach for several months, urging the Prime Minister to try to find a basis for a cross-party compromise.

And earlier this month, May’s deputy, David Lidington, told MPs that if the Prime Minister’s deal was voted down for a third time, the Government “would facilitate a process ... To allow the house to seek a majority on the way forward”.

Several possible outcomes are likely to be voted on: the Prime Minister’s deal, a second referendum, revoking Article 50, a no-deal exit, a deal involving a permanent customs union with the EU, a deal involving a customs union and membership of the single market and a less comprehensive agreement in the form of a free trade deal.

A group of senior backbench MPs, including former Tory ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve and Labour’s Hilary Benn, has said the Government should not be allowed to set the terms of the votes. They have tabled a Commons amendment that would pave the way for indicative votes to be held on Wednesday, regardless of whether or not the Government agrees.

One of those involved, ex-Tory minister Nick Boles, said it was crucial MPs, not ministers, are allowed to define the options. He said: “MPs supporting the different options must be in charge of defining them and control the drafting of the motions. Otherwise they will be setting us up to fail.”

There is also the question of the process by which MPs would vote. One would see the Commons divide on a series of yes/no votes on specific proposals. However, the danger is no option receives a majority. Another plan would see rounds of voting, with the least popular option being discarded at each stage.