THERESA May is staring down the barrel of a series of damaging defeats on the flagship Brexit bill in the House of Lords this week.
The upper chamber is debating the legislation – which lays the legal ground for our withdrawal from the bloc – with peers set to back an amendment keeping the UK in the EU customs union.
It would mean tariffs on goods traded with the continent would stay the same post-Brexit, but would hinder the Government from signing new deals with other countries.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she wants to take Britain out of both the customs union and the single market.
Her stance has been spelled out in the EU Withdrawal Bill, which has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons after being passed by MPs.
But Ministers have reportedly resigned themselves to the fact the House of Lords will almost certainly pass amendments to try and force the PM to change her position.
A government insider toldÂ The Independent: âAre we expecting a defeat? Yes, thatâs about where we are.
âThe government is listening on the important aspects of the bill and I think thatâs what the overall tone of the debate from the crossbenchers will be â that, actually, the government is listening and taking appropriate action.
âBut there was always going to be a time when this type of amendment, the customs union amendment, was going to cause a bit of a clash.
âWeâll just have to see how the debate goes.â
If the amendment passes then it would bounce back to the House of Commons, where Mrs May would try and reverse it in a crucial vote.
If she was defeated in the lower chamber as well by pro-EU MPs she might have to reconsider her position, or risk delaying the crucial legislation being passed before we quite the EU next March.
The amendment, backed by crossbencher Lord Kerr, who helped authorÂ Article 50, as well as ex-Tory cabinet minister Lord Patten, Labour frontbencher Baroness HayterÂ and Lib Dem Baroness Ludford, is likely to come to a vote on Wednesday.
But the customs union is not the only area where the Government could be vulnerable, with a string of other opposition and rebel amendments being laid down, and anti-Brexit peers suggesting they could inflict up to six defeats.
In response a government spokesperson said: âThe House of Lords plays an important role in scrutinising and revising legislation and we are grateful for the contributions that have been made so far.
âThroughout the EU (Withdrawal) Billâs passage we have demonstrated that we are listening to constructive suggestions put forward.
âThis bill is about providing certainty and continuity as we leave the EU, it is not a medium to overturn the referendum.â