Cumbrian MP Rory Stewart has made a last-ditch call on MPs to reach a compromise and back the Prime Minister’s controversial Brexit deal.

If they don’t, he said colleagues need to be absolutely honest about what they do want or risk leaving the European Union with no deal.

Today’s vote will determine whether Theresa May has enough support to get the key decision through Parliament.

If she fails, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and even no Brexit at all will potentially be back on the table.

Penrith and the Border MP Mr Stewart, who is also Justice Minister in Mrs May’s Government, has been a strong supporter of her proposal.

Due to his Government role, he is not able to speak in Parliament on the issue.

However he has today issued a strong appeal to fellow MPs to think carefully before rejecting the deal, which he believes is the best possible compromise for Britain.

He said politicians have previously committed to deliver Brexit, in line with the result of the referendum.

However he said they also have to be mindful of the fact it was a very close result, and they therefore need to find a compromise that most people can be happy with.

“I still feel very strongly that people voted for Brexit. We need to do it in a responsible way that protects our economy. That means we have to have a deal with the European Union,” said Mr Stewart.

“People remain very divided. We just have to hope that Parliamentary procedure helps people come to their senses.”

He accepted that, going into today’s vote, it was not looking good for the Prime Minister.

“Some people are beginning to change their minds and saying they will support the deal, but at the moment it’s probably not enough to get it past the line,” he said.

“If it doesn’t then the uncertainty will continue. We still wouldn’t know what there was a majority for.

“Parliament seems to be against a no deal and possibly against the Prime Minister’s deal. I think we need to move the conversation away from the negative and towards the positive. We need a deal that can command a majority of MPs. That means MPs are going to have to compromise.

“I think people are quite depressed. They are beginning to realise their stubbornness is getting us in a very tough predicament and someone is going to have to compromise. I’m hoping that will happen.”

One of the biggest criticisms of the deal is the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement. He said that if that was the only thing stopping MPs from supporting the deal, there was potentially scope to go back to the EU on this issue - if Mrs May had majority backing on all other points.

“If we can get a clear signal to Europe that there’s a deal, with a particular concession on the backstop, then hopefully we can get it over the line.

“They do not need to accept it. They can reject it. But I think it’s more likely they would accept a change if they felt there was a majority agreement,” he said.

Asked if he felt the backstop was being used to derail Brexit, Mr Stewart accepted that was a possibility.

“That’s what I’m worried about. What I fear is that MPs are using the backstop as an excuse,” he said.

“The thing that frustrates me is that there are some colleagues who are trying to stop it entirely, and some colleagues trying to stop there being a deal. I think both of those things would be damaging to Britain, but also damaging to our society. The vote was quite close. Now we need to bring society together.”

There has been talk that some will push for a General Election if today’s vote fails, but Mr Stewart doubts it: “I think it’s unlikely, but nothing is completely off the table in modern British politics.”