Theresa May launched a vicious tirade at Remainer MPs mounting a ‘con trick’ to reverse the referendum result today as she backed Boris Johnson’s deal.
The former PM warned that the ‘eyes of the world are on us’ as she urged colleagues to get behind the new package thrashed out with Brussels.
She demanded MPs who are planning to oppose the deal ‘put the national interest first’ and honour the will of the public.
‘Do we want to deliver Brexit?’ she stormed. ‘When we voted to trigger Article 50 did we really mean it?’
Her display of loyalty to her successor Boris Johnson was in contrast with his attitude to her Brexit deal, which he opposed twice in Commons’ votes before backing it at the third time of asking.
She was greeted with a shout of ‘rebel’ from the Tory backbenches as she stood to speak today, to which Mrs May replied: ‘Well I intend to rebel against all of those who don’t want to vote to deliver Brexit.’
She added: ‘Today’s vote is important. The eyes of the country, no, actually the eyes of the wider world are upon us today and every member in this House has a responsibility in the decision that they will take to determine whether or not they’re going to put the national interest first and not just an ideological or single issue or a party political interest, but the full wider interests of our constituents.’
The powerful intervention came with Mr Johnson is desperately trying to stop a Remainer plot that looks set to snatch away his moment of triumph on a Brexit deal.
In the Commons this afternoon, Theresa May warned that the ‘eyes of the world are on us’ as she urged colleagues to get behind the new package thrashed out by Boris Johnson
Mrs May demanded MPs who are planning to oppose the deal ‘put the national interest first’ and honour the will of the public
The powerful intervention came with Mr Johnson is desperately trying to stop a Remainer plot that looks set to snatch away his moment of triumph on a Brexit deal
The PM has been meeting unionist MPs urging them to help fend off the amendment tabled by former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin, which would prevent the deal being put to a formal vote this afternoon.
If passed, the crunch vote is instead likely to happen on Tuesday – and Mr Johnson will be forced by a separate Remainer law to beg the EU for an extension tonight.
Government whips admitted they are not hopeful of defeating the Letwin amendment – which he insists is only intended to stave off the threat of No Deal. ‘Lots of people do seem to have been brought in by his arguments sadly,’ one told told MailOnline.
They also played down the prospects of enlisting support from the DUP’s 10 MPs, who have condemned the Brexit deal as ‘weak’ and risking the break-up of the union. ‘They are not in a positive place,’ a source in the whips’ office admitted ruefully.
Mrs May said: ‘The position we take tonight will determine not just the future of our country and the future lives of our constituents but, I believe, the very future of our politics. Because we have, today, to make a key decision.
‘And it is simple, do we want to deliver Brexit? Do we want to deliver on the result of the referendum in 2016?’
She added: ‘When we voted to trigger Article 50, did we really mean it? When the two main parties represented in this House stood on manifestos in the 2017 general election to deliver Brexit, did we really mean it?
‘I think there can only be one answer to that and that is yes, we did mean it. Yes, we keep faith with the British people. Yes, we want to deliver Brexit.’
Mrs May added: ‘If this Parliament did not mean it, then it is guilty of the most egregious con trick on the British people.’
Mrs May said there could not be a second referendum ‘simply because some people did not agree’ with the result of the first one.
Kicking off a ‘Super Saturday’ showdown in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson complained that there might not be a ‘meaningful’ decision for days longer due to the Letwin amendment
Kicking off the ‘Super Saturday’ showdown in the House of Commons earlier, Mr Johnson complained that there might not be a ‘meaningful’ decision for days longer.
He said it was ‘urgent’ for the country to get past the standoff and ‘unite’, saying his deal can ‘heal the rift in British politics’. ‘Now is the time for this great House of Commons to come together and bring the country together today,’ he insisted.
Mr Johnson warned the ‘scope for fruitful negotiation has run its course’. ‘It is now my judgement that we have reached the best possible solution,’ he said.
Sources have revealed that Mr Johnson held crisis talks with Sir Oliver in Downing Street last night as he tried to head off the crisis, but without success.
Ironically, the roadblock emerged just as the premier seemed to be on the brink of a breakthrough.
He has been boosted by the support of leading Tory ‘Spartan’ Mark Francois and ex-Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, and Steve Baker, head of the Eurosceptic ERG bloc, today urged his colleagues to fall into line.
There is mounting speculation that at least a dozen Labour MPs would support the package dramatically thrashed out with Brussels this week.
That would offset furious opposition from his former DUP allies and Jeremy Corbyn, and put the premier on the threshold of an historic triumph that could define the country for a generation.
However, despite polls showing the public is weary of three years of bitter wrangling after the referendum, an extraordinary piece of Parliamentary trickery could yet deprive the PM of the ‘clean’ vote he craves on his deal.
Sir Oliver – who served in Cabinet under David Cameron – has tabled an amendment that would effectively deny approval of the deal until after detailed implementation law has been passed.
Speaker John Bercow confirmed this morning that he had selected the change for debate, and it could be passed with support from Labour and Lib Dem Remainers, many of whom still want a referendum to cancel Brexit altogether.
The fact that Letwin’s amendment does not outright kill the deal – and the government’s lack of a majority – means that many MPs will endorse the amendment instead of giving the Prime Minister his moment of truth.
Labour MP Gareth Snell, who is widely expected to support the deal when it comes to a vote, told the Commons he would back the Letwin move.
However, it was angrily condemned by a series of other MPs including Labour’s Caroline Flint, who branded it a ‘panic measure’. She said the plot demonstrated that the ‘sponsors of the Benn Act had only one intention – to delay Brexit and stop it’.
Oliver Letwin (pictured left in the Commons today) has tabled the extraordinary amendment that would block the PM’s crunch vote later. Former chancellor Ken Clarke (right) said he will back the deal when legislation comes before Parliament
The House of Commons was absolutely jam packed for the dramatic debate on the Prime Minister’s deal today
In another day of high-stakes drama at the Houses of Parliament as the Brexit saga drew towards a culmination:
- Furious Tories turned on Sir Oliver branding him ‘too clever by half’ and accusing him of making the first Saturday sitting since the Falklands War ‘meaningless’;
- Mr Johnson appealed for MPs to ‘get Brexit done’ saying that the public was sick and tired of the situation overshadowing their priorities on the NHS and law and order;
- The chiefs of the Eurosceptic ERG bloc urged its MPs to back the PM in a key boost for the deal’s prospects. David Trimble, an architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has endorsed it;
- The DUP voiced anger, with deputy leader Nigel Dodds confronting Mr Johnson saying ‘weariness’ on Brexit is ‘no excuse for weakness on Brexit and weakness on the union’;
- Former chancellor Philip Hammond suggested he will back the Letwin amendment and oppose the deal, saying he would not be tricked into support a ‘camouflaged No Deal’ at the end of the transition period;
- Remainers kept pushing for a second referendum with Tony Blair urging MPs to be ‘patient’ and oppose the deal so that there would need to be another public ballot;
- European leaders watched closely after Emmanuel Macron and Leo Varadkar warned there was no guarantee that they will grant any request for an extension – suggesting MPs will have to choose between this deal and No Deal;
- Mr Johnson held out an olive branch to Labour MPs by pledging an automatic right to vote on whether to adopt future EU laws on workers’ rights;
If Mr Johnson fails to fend off the challenge, the rebel Benn Act dictates that he must beg the EU for an extension by tonight – breaking his ‘do or die’ vow to get the UK out of the bloc by October 31.
Mr Johnson seemed to accept during his statement to MPs this morning that he will send a letter asking for a delay. ‘Whatever letters they may seek to enforce the Government to write, it cannot change my judgement that further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust,’ he said.
In his statement to MPs as the debate kicked off this morning, Mr Johnson said the Brexit issue must not be allowed to ‘consume’ Westminster any more.
‘I do hope that in assembling for the purposes of a meaningful vote that we will indeed be allowed to have a meaningful vote this evening,’ he said.
‘The House will need no reminding that this is the second deal and the fourth vote, three-and-a-half years after the nation voted for Brexit.
‘And during those years friendships have been strained, families divided and the attention of this House consumed by a single issue that has at times felt incapable of resolution.
‘But I hope that this is the moment when we can finally achieve that resolution and reconcile the instincts that compete within us.’
Mr Johnson said the agreement ‘provides for a real Brexit’, adding: ‘Taking back control of our borders, laws, money, farming, fisheries and trade – amounting to the greatest single restoration of national sovereignty in parliamentary history.
‘It removes the backstop, which would have held us against our will in the customs union and much of the single market.
‘For the first time in almost five decades the UK will be able to strike free trade deals with our friends across the world.’
Mr Johnson played down DUP concerns that Northern Ireland had been cut loose by Britain in the deal, telling MPs: ‘Above all we and our European friends have preserved the letter and the spirit of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and upheld the longstanding areas of cooperation between the UK and Ireland, including the common travel area.’
A shout of ‘it’s a sell out’ could be heard from one MP on the opposition benches as Mr Johnson spoke.
But Mr Corbyn made clear that Labour will back the Letwin amendment and oppose the deal.
‘Labour is not prepared to sell out the communities that we represent,’ he raged.
‘We are not prepared to sell out their future and we will not back this sell-out deal. ‘This is about our communities now and about our future generations.’
Earlier, the DUP’s 10 MPs underlined their opposition to the deal, saying it would undermine the union. Deputy leader Nigel Dodds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We will not be supporting the Government, we will be voting against.
‘Because it isn’t Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom.’
The PM has been focusing his efforts on Tory Eurosceptics, 21 former Tory rebels, and up to 30 Labour ‘realists’ who have suggested they could line up behind the proposals. Some 28 Conservative ‘Spartans’ did not vote for Theresa May’s deal on any of the three occasions it was brought, but Mr Johnson looks set to secure backing from almost all over them.
With around a dozen Labour MPs appearing minded to defy threats of deselection and support the deal, the bulk of 21 former Tory rebels coming round, and a handful of independents, the government is on the threshold of the 320 winning line.
Mr Francois told his Rayleigh constitution association last night that he would be supporting the deal. Another ‘Spartan’ Anne-Marie Morris has also said she will be voting in favour.
Another Tory hardliner, Peter Bone, said he was yet to decide for certain but was minded to fall into line. ‘I will vote for his deal if it’s made clear in the Commons today we will leave the transition period on December 31 2020 and no later,’ Mr Bone said.
Mr Duncan Smith urged his colleagues to back the deal, and swiped that Sir Oliver should ‘stow’ his concerns.
‘I beg my colleagues… we have got to vote down the Letwin amendment,’ he told the BBC. ‘This vote has to be clear to our partners in Europe and clear to the country that we are now on a track to leave under this deal.
‘I just wish Oliver Letwin, for once, would stow it now.’ He added: ‘I beg my colleagues, it’s for the country now, we have to get this over the line.’
Senior backbencher Damian Collins tweeted: ‘The Letwin amendment is another of those Brexit ideas which is too clever by half. If it passes it effectively renders today’s Saturday sitting of parliament meaningless, at a time when the country and the EU needs to know whether parliament accepts the new withdrawal deal or not.’
One government source said of the Letwin amendment: ‘If it passes, it’s an act of sabotage dressed up as reasonableness. MPs are still trying to put off the moment of decision.’
Sir Oliver insisted that he was a supporter of the Prime Minister’s plans and that it was only designed to act as an insurance policy to ensure that the UK did not leave the EU without a deal on October 31.
But a Government source said: ‘The amendment is not about conditional approval – it is explicitly withholding approval. The vast majority of the signatories have no intention of ever voting for a deal, and have never done so. They want an extension and a chance for a second referendum.’
ERG chairman Steve Baker tweeted the group’s ‘advice to MPs’ after a meeting this morning: ‘1. Vote for Boris’s deal in the national interest.
‘2. Support the legislation to completion in good faith, provided it is not spoiled by opponents of Brexit.
‘3. Vote with Boris throughout to give him maximum opportunity to deliver for our country.’
However, former Tory Antoinette Sandbach confirmed that she will not be joining the government in the division lobbies, saying the package is worse than Mrs May’s plan.
Mr Hammond said he would not be ‘duped’ into backing something that could lead to a ‘heavily camouflaged no-deal’ departure.
The ex-top minister said the Prime Minister needed to ‘reassure’ sceptics like him that the withdrawal agreement would not lead to the UK crashing out of the EU next year because the backstop had been removed.
It came after Tory MP John Baron claimed yesterday that he had been assured by No 10 that the deal would allow the UK to sever ties with the EU if it fails to secure a trade deal.
Writing in the Times Mr Hammond said: ‘My former colleague, John Baron MP, gave the game away: they are being told that, once we are out, the UK will make a take-it-or-leave-it proposal for a minimum-ambition,”Canada-minus” trade deal on the UK’s terms and when the EU rejects it, the UK will leave without a trade deal at the end of 2020.
‘I haven’t come this far seeking to avoid no deal in 2019 to be duped into voting for a heavily camouflaged no-deal at the end of 2020. But I am not a lost cause!’
Meanwhile, Remainers stepped up their efforts to thwart a resolution of Brexit standoff and force a referendum.
Former prime minister Tony Blair told the Today programme: ‘If this deal had been put before the British parliament a year ago, or two years ago, there is absolutely no way it would pass.
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds (left) said ‘weariness’ on Brexit is ‘no excuse for weakness on Brexit and weakness on the union’. Jeremy Corbyn (pictured right in the Commons today) made clear that Labour will back the Letwin amendment and oppose the PM’s deal
Maverick No10 strategist Dominic Cummings was in Downing Street today as the Brexit drama unfolded in Westminster
Hillary Benn (left in Westminster today) has given his name to the legislation that could force the PM to beg for a Brexit extension if his deal is not passed today. Boris Johnson’s brother Jo (right) quit the government last month, and it is not clear whether he will back the deal
Boris Johnson (pictured leaving Downing Street today) faces having his moment of triumph snatched away by an ‘act of sabotage’ despite being within touching distance of getting a majority for his deal
The survey found a surge in support for the Tories following the Prime Minister’s breakthrough at this week’s EU summit. They are now on 32 per cent, five points up on their tally three weeks ago. Optimism was mounting in No 10 last night that MPs will back the agreement. A source said: ‘It is incredibly close, but it is doable’
‘The only reason the Government can try and get it passed now is frankly… people are completely fed up with Brexit. They want it over. They want it done with.’
Voters last night threw their weight behind Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal.
On the eve of today’s dramatic Commons vote on his withdrawal plan, 50 per cent said MPs should back it.
The Survation poll for the Daily Mail showed 38 per cent were against the deal with 12 per cent undecided.
The survey found a surge in support for the Tories following the Prime Minister’s breakthrough at this week’s EU summit. They are now on 32 per cent, five points up on their tally three weeks ago. Optimism was mounting in No 10 last night that MPs will back the agreement. A source said: ‘It is incredibly close, but it is doable.’
However the situation became even more tense when Sir Oliver tabled a plan to force Mr Johnson to seek another delay to Brexit.
Today’s poll shows that a total of 47 per cent of people say they support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, while 38 per cent say they are against it.
Voters were also in no doubt as to who blinked first in the EU talks – with 52 per cent saying the UK gave most ground. Only 20 per cent think Brussels backed down. A total of 47 per cent believe Mr Johnson’s plan should go to a referendum, compared with 44 against the idea.
When voters are given a straight choice between the Prime Minister’s deal and remaining in the EU there is a dead heat, with both sides winning 50 per cent.
Remarkably, 29 per cent of Labour voters say they would back Mr Johnson’s deal in such a referendum; 71 per cent say they would not back his deal.
But a different picture emerges if, as argued by Brexiteers, voters are given a third option of leaving with No Deal.
Remain gets most support, 45 per cent, based on first preferences – though no option gets over the 50 per cent winning line. The poll showed that most of the extra backing for the Tories was at the expense of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, whose support has fallen by 3 per cent.
The results of the survey heap more humiliation on beleaguered Mr Corbyn. One in five of his own Labour voters would rather see Mr Johnson in Downing Street. Millions of Labour supporters have written off his chances of ever seizing power.
Asked who they thought will win the next election, just 31 per cent of Labour voters think Mr Corbyn: exactly the same number, 31 per cent, say Mr Johnson will beat him.
If Mr Johnson delivers his pledge to leave the EU by October 31, he can expect a further surge in his ratings. A total of 33 per cent say they will be more likely to vote Conservative; 23 per cent say they will be less likely to do so.
Former Labour MP Frank Field (left) is expected to back the deal in a vote. Change UK leader Anna Soubry, a former Tory minister, will be against the deal
Moreover, if MPs throw out his proposal today, voters will not point the finger of blame at him.
A total of 42 per cent say that they will hold Parliament responsible for the delay – twice the number, 21 per cent, who say Mr Johnson will have only himself to blame for the defeat.
More than one in two (52 per cent) say the new deal ‘honours the 2016 referendum’ compared with fewer than one in three (30 per cent) who say it does not.
Asked who has the best Brexit policy, Mr Johnson is way ahead of all the main party leaders; Mr Corbyn trails in last behind Mr Farage in second place, followed by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson.
The chasm between Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn’s respective personal standing is illustrated by their ratings on ‘charisma’.
Here the Prime Minister scores plus 16 compared with Mr Corbyn’s minus 59.
For ‘intelligence’, Mr Johnson is plus 36 compared with the opposition leader’s minus seven.
A total of 41 per cent oppose the decision by Northern Ireland’s DUP to defy Mr Johnson today; seen as the main obstacle to him succeeding; 28 per cent say the DUP are right to oppose him.
Last night, Mr Johnson said that the showdown in the House of Commons was a ‘very big moment for our country’.
He said: ‘I think that getting it done would be a chance for us to come together as a country and move on and focus on things that really matter to people. I think the sigh of relief that would go up, not just around Britain, but around the world, would be very, very large and passionate.’
The Prime Minister also insisted his deal was the best divorce agreement possible.
Survation interviewed 1,025 adults online on Thursday afternoon and Friday.
‘Christmas at Chequers is cancelled’: The Prime Minister’s Remain-backing sister Rachel Johnson jokes about her arguments with Boris Johnson on Have I Got News For You
Rachel Johnson admitted that being the Prime Minister’s sister meant ‘a world of pain’ in her appearance on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You.
The avid Remainer, who has been critical of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, quickly objected to being introduced as the sibling to Boris Johnson.
Ms Johnson said on the BBC show: ‘I like the way you introduce me as Boris Johnson’s sister as if that is actually my day job.’
She joked with panelists that being the Prime Minister’s sister meant a ‘world of pain’.
Host Victoria Coren Mitchell later asked Ms Johnson: ‘Does Boris ever phone you up and say ‘oh don’t say that it’s really embarrassing’
The broadcaster and journalist – who appeared on the popular programme with Paul Merton, Ross Noble, and Ian Hislop – quickly retorted: ‘Yup’
Host Victoria Coren Mitchell later asked Ms Johnson: ‘Does Boris ever phone you up and say ‘oh don’t say that it’s really embarrassing.’
The broadcaster and journalist – who appeared on the popular programme with Paul Merton, Ross Noble, and Ian Hislop – quickly retorted: ‘Yup’.
She added that after she made the comment about No Deal Brexit only benefiting currency speculators that ‘it meant Christmas Chequers was canceled.’
Ross Noble joked she could retort to her brother that ‘everything you do is embarassing, goodbye.’
She then added ‘No, I’m under orders to not do any chat shows, not to say anything about the Prime Minister, this is my safe space’ to raucous laughter from the audience.
In regular feature of the show, part of the show panelists were given a headline to complete that started ‘Queen set to earn £100 million from (blank space).’
Ms Johnson said: ‘I know, suing the Prime Minister for illegal prorogation.’
Ms Johnson appeared on the popular BBC comedy news show on the same team as celebrated comedian Paul Merton
Then she puts her hands to her face and exclaims: ‘Cut that bit! Christmas at Chequers is cancelled.’
Mr Merton then retorts: ‘Well he may not be at Chequers at Christmas, you don’t know.’
Boris Johnson’s sister quickly responds: ‘I hope he is.’
In a previous appearance on Sky News last month, Ms Johnson attacked her brother’s attempt to force through Brexit.
She said: ‘I think that what we are seeing is an executive that is so keen to deliver Brexit in any shape or form, to get the country out of the EU, to deliver up on that promised land, that they will do anything to justify that end’
Asked what could be behind the strategy, she said: ‘It could be (senior aide) Dominic Cummings advising the Prime Minister to be extremely aggressive and to face down opposition from all sides of the establishment in order to secure his position as the tribune of the people.
‘It could be coming from my brother himself, he obviously thoroughly enjoys being Prime Minister.
‘It also could be from – who knows – people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit. We don’t know.’
Ms Johnson is not the only family member to turn against the PM after his younger brother Jo revealed he was quitting as a minister and would stand down as the MP for Orpington at the next election.
He said there had been an ‘unresolvable tension’ between ‘family loyalty and the national interest’.
What happens if Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment is agreed by MPs? Boris Johnson would be forced to ask the EU for a divorce delay, face a race against time to pass a key Brexit law and have to wait to hold a final vote on his deal
MPs are likely to support a rebel amendment this afternoon which will scupper Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan.
The Prime Minister wants MPs to formally back his deal today but a proposal put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin is expected to ruin the premier’s hopes of making Brexit progress.
The amendment has cross-party backing and will ultimately force the PM to ask the EU for a Brexit delay under the terms of the anti-No Deal law known as the Benn Act.
If it is agreed, the amendment does not kill off Mr Johnson’s deal and it would still be possible for him to deliver Brexit by October 31.
But the path to fulfilling his ‘do or die’ Halloween pledge will be fraught with difficulty and the chances of a Brexit delay will increase exponentially.
Here is a breakdown of what is likely to happen if the amendment is passed by MPs.
What does the Letwin amendment do?
It would withhold support for the PM’s deal until such a time as the government has brought forward and passed the legislation needed to actually make an orderly Brexit happen.
By failing to agree to a Brexit deal by close of play today, the provisions outlined in the Benn Act would be triggered and the PM would have to ask the EU to push back the current departure date.
The amendment would effectively postpone the ‘meaningful vote’ on the accord until the government has got its Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament.
Boris Johnson, pictured in the House of Commons today, is urging MPs to formally back his proposed Brexit deal
But the PM’s hopes of making Brexit progress could be scuppered by an amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Lewtin which has cross-party support
The thinking is that by withholding support for the deal until key Brexit legislation is in place, MPs will further protect against the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
Some Remainers are suspicious that if MPs back the PM’s deal today and there is no extension, Brexiteers who want a No Deal split could then scupper the passage of the laws needed to deliver an orderly exit, causing a bad break on Halloween.
What will happen if the amendment does pass?
The PM will have to comply with the Benn Act and send a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit delay.
He would then likely bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Monday this week to try to crash it through Parliament as quickly as possible.
If he was able to get MPs and peers to agree to the draft legislation in the coming days he would then be able to hold the ‘meaningful vote’ on his deal, paving the way for the UK to leave the EU on time.
How likely is it that MPs and peers will agree to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?
The Letwin amendment will effectively rob the PM of the chance to test whether there is a majority for his deal.
That means that nobody will know for certain whether there is a majority in favour of the so-called WAB.
Even if there is a majority it is likely to be a slim one which will make the passage of the legislation incredibly difficult as rebel MPs potentially try to amend and change it.
Draft laws have been rushed through parliament in quick time before but whether something as divisive as the legislation to deliver Brexit could be dealt with equally as swiftly is unclear.
What happens if the PM is able to get the Brexit law agreed and win a ‘meaningful vote’ before October 31?
The UK could still leave the EU on the current timetable but the closer we get to Halloween the tougher that becomes and the chances of a delay increase.
If the PM can get the deal signed off by MPs by the end of the coming week – a big if – his ‘do or die’ pledge could still be stuck to.
But anything beyond that and time will get extremely tight because once MPs have agreed the deal it still has to go through the European Parliament.
What is the EU likely to do?
If the amendment is agreed and the PM sends the Brexit delay letter the EU will have to decide whether to offer an extension.
The most likely scenario is that the bloc will keep its powder dry and not formally respond until it has seen whether the PM can win a vote in the Commons this coming week on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
If he can, then Brussels will probably hold fire on offering an extension on the grounds that the UK could still agree to a deal and leave on time.
If he cannot win a vote on the WAB this week and his deal looks dead then the bloc will face more pressure to make a final decision on any delay.
It is thought in such circumstances the bloc would offer a postponement in order to stop a No Deal Brexit.
That would pave the way for a general election potentially being held before the end of the year.
Could there be an emergency EU summit?
If the PM is able to make progress in the coming days and win a vote on the WAB but he is unable to get everything done by the end of the week there could then be an emergency summit held in Brussels on October 28.
If the PM’s deal is still alive but more time is needed to get it through Parliament European leaders could agree to a short extension.