Theresa May is to take the Brexit vote to the wire in a bid to wring further concessions from the EU, before giving MPs just a week to choose between her deal or a lengthy extension of the 29 March deadline.
An ITV news correspondent overhead Britain’s top Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, discussing May’s plan in a Brussels hotel bar.
May has regularly reaffirmed that the UK will leave the EU on the 29 March deadline, but Robbins was heard to say: ‘Got to make them believe that the week beginning end of March…Extension is possible, but if they don’t vote for the deal, then the extension is a long one.
‘The issue is whether Brussels is clear on the terms of the extension. In the end they will probably just give us an extension.’
Many observers are now expecting 21 March to be the high stakes crunch date when parliament again will get to vote on whether to accept May’s revised deal or not, leaving just a week before the deadline to leave the EU.
Others fear that the choice will be the even starker one of signing up to May’s deal or leaving the EU with no deal, although Robbins’ comments suggest the prime minister is aiming to avoid that outcome.