Theresa May is facing calls from ministers to delay Brexit, it can be revealed today. Amid cabinet divisions over how to break the deadlock, she has b
Amid cabinet divisions over how to break the deadlock, she has been warned there is ‘no way’ Britain will be ready to leave the EU on March 29 next year.
Downing Street has insisted there will be no extension to the two-year Article 50 process, but one minister last night said it was inevitable.
The politician told the Mail: ‘We are running out of time, we will have to extend Article 50.
‘Once we get through Christmas there will be less than 100 days to go and there is just no way we can get this deal through on time.
Tense: With little more than 100 days to go until the Brexit departure date, The PM was seen locked in a tense standoff with the EU commission chief Jean Claude Juncker on Thursday after the EU accused the UK of offering ‘nebulous’ negotiating positions
‘There are people talking about extending it by three months, or six months, it’s not clear what will happen but it does look like it will have to be extended.’
Mrs May will gather her Cabinet on Tuesday to discuss ramping up preparations for the possibility of a no-deal exit in the wake of the decision to postpone the Commons vote on the withdrawal agreement.
But ministers are divided on how the Government should move forward. David Lidington, the Prime Minister’s de facto deputy, yesterday twice refused to rule out resigning if she pursues a no-deal Brexit.
Asked if he would be prepared to take the UK out of the EU without a deal, he told Sky News: ‘That is not the policy of the Government or the Prime Minister who I support and work for. The policy of the entire cabinet, which includes colleagues who both campaigned to leave and campaigned to remain, is that we do not want no deal, we want to have a deal, that is what we are continuing to work towards.’
In a separate interview, Mr Lidington left the door open to holding a series of non-binding ‘indicative’ votes on different Brexit outcomes including the so-called Norway and Canada options – as well as no deal – to test the opinion of MPs.
Asked if the Government could support indicative votes if the PM’s Brexit deal is voted down in Parliament, Mr Lidington told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Certainly I will be supporting the Prime Minister in campaigning vigorously for Parliament to approve the deal that has been negotiated.
Mrs May embarked upon a whirlwind tour of European capitals this week in an attempt to win further concessions over the Irish backstop, but was rebuffed
‘Were that not to happen then obviously the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, would need to take stock and come to Parliament accordingly.’
Another cabinet minister yesterday suggested a second referendum, while unwanted, may be a better option than risking a no-deal outcome.
The minister also criticised Mrs May’s decision to announce she would stand down before the next election in 2022, arguing it could play into the hands of hardline Brexiteers trying to oust her.
The senior politician told the Mail: ‘It’s just bad advice, that’s the problem. It’s not helpful.’
Michael Gove said the Prime Minister’s deal – a vote on which was pulled when whips warned it would be defeated by more than 100 votes – can survive
On a visit to Glasgow, Michael Gove yesterday insisted he believes the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will survive. The Environment Secretary said: ‘Yes I think it can.
‘The Prime Minister has been conducting negotiations on behalf of the country with the tenacity, determination and focus on the national interest that has always characterised her approach.
‘And absolutely we will have an opportunity to hear from the Prime Minister when she is speaking in the House of Commons next week and I know that she will have the enthusiastic support of the Cabinet for the course that she is on.’
Asked how the deal can be passed, given the arithmetic of the Commons has not changed, he said: ‘We’ll see.’
The idea of an indicative vote would be to assess whether any alternative to the Brexit deal – from a no-deal exit to a Norway-style close economic partnership with the EU – could command a majority in the House of Commons.
However, some Tories fear the ballots would show there is no majority for any option and would lead towards a second referendum – which could result in Britain remaining in the EU.