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May awaits her fate at EU summit while leaders ponder year-long delay

Theresa May has finished making her pitch for a short Brexit delay to hostile EU leaders at a crunch EU summit that could decide when the UK leaves.

The Prime Minister spent a little more than an hour in a question and answer session at the emergency meeting in Brussels tonight before being kicked out while they decide the UK's fate over a lavish dinner.

The other 27 leaders of EU nations are deciding whether to give her what she wants - an extension to Article 50 to no later than June 30 - or, as seems more likely, impose a humiliating longer delay to leaving the trade bloc.

She addressed the European Council session in the Belgian capital after Emmanuel Macron had warned her that he was  'impatient' and that a long Brexit delay was not guaranteed.

The French president appeared to wink today as he arrived in the EU's core - after being urged not to 'humiliate' the Prime Minister. 

He is set to demand the UK is subjected to a number of punitive conditions with a Christmas deadline to finally quit the trade bloc, but also raised the spectre of a no-deal Brexit, possibly on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at the start of the emergency meeting of national leaders he warned that 'nothing is settled', including a long delay, and he was 'impatient' to hear what Mrs May had to say.

'We must understand today why this request, what is the political project which justifies it and what are the clear proposals?' he said. 

'It is 34 months since the British referendum, and the key for us is that we are able to pursue the European project in a coherent way.

'I believe deeply that we are carrying out a European rebirth, and I don't want the subject of Brexit to get in the way of that.'   

Mrs May's performance was shorter than the one she gave at the previous Brexit summit in March, where she spoke for more than 90 minutes before EU leaders dismissed her request - which was the same as the one she made tonight.

She used her own arrival in Brussels this afternoon to lash MPs for refusing to pass the Brexit deal, complaining 'we should have left by now', but dodged questions about her own future.

EU leaders are almost certain to reject her bid and force a delay lasting between December 31 this year and March 31, 2020, which could prompt her to resign.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants a gentler, but longer extension, into 2020 - reflecting splits among the EU27 that are set to delay a ruling long into tonight. 

Arriving at the EU's headquarters the PM refused to say if she would quit if Britain is forced to swallow a longer delay - but insisted her aim is still to leave the EU on May 22 if she can win over Jeremy Corbyn.

She said: 'What is important is that any extension enables us to leave at the point at which we ratify our Withdrawal Agreement. I know many people will be frustrated that the summit is taking place at all. The UK should have left by now'. 

President Macron is also calling for regular 'behaviour reviews' of the UK, a bonfire of its EU powers and posts and a 'Boris-proof' lock preventing a new Tory leader causing havoc within the EU if she stands down, despite warnings from Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel not to poison relations with Britain. 

Before taking off for Belgium a frustrated Theresa May blasted MPs for not voting through her EU divorce deal after Tory Eurosceptic Henry Smith accusing her of throwing away £1billion-a-month in payment to Brussels if she accepts a longer Article 50 extension tonight.

Mrs May hit back: 'We could have been outside the EU by now if we'd managed to get the deal through Parliament and I'm continuing to work to deliver Brexit'.

But with talks with Labour set to start again tomorrow, Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn dodged the subject completely during Prime Minister's Questions. 

Despite the  pressure Mrs May was able to share a joke with Mrs Merkel and Mr Tusk at the start of the Brussels meeting tonight, laughing at something on the chancellor's iPad.

It later emerged that they were looking at a side-by-side image the German leader and Mrs May wearing jackets of exactly the same colour as they took questions in their respective Parliaments earlier in the day.

Mrs May shared a joke with  German chancellor Angela Merkel tonight, ahead of the PM's pitch to EU leaders in which she is asking for a delay to Brexit until June 30 at the latest

Mrs May shared a joke with  German chancellor Angela Merkel tonight, ahead of the PM's pitch to EU leaders in which she is asking for a delay to Brexit until June 30 at the latest

Mrs May shared a joke with  German chancellor Angela Merkel tonight, ahead of the PM's pitch to EU leaders in which she is asking for a delay to Brexit until June 30 at the latest

The two national leaders, both dressed in cobalt blue, appeared captivated by something on Mrs Merkel's iPad at the start of the meeting in Brussels

The two national leaders, both dressed in cobalt blue, appeared captivated by something on Mrs Merkel's iPad at the start of the meeting in Brussels

The two national leaders, both dressed in cobalt blue, appeared captivated by something on Mrs Merkel's iPad at the start of the meeting in Brussels

They then shared the joke with European Council president Donald Tusk, who saw the funny side. He has suggested that the UK face a Brexit delay of up to a year

They then shared the joke with European Council president Donald Tusk, who saw the funny side. He has suggested that the UK face a Brexit delay of up to a year

They then shared the joke with European Council president Donald Tusk, who saw the funny side. He has suggested that the UK face a Brexit delay of up to a year

France's President Emmanuel Macron appears to wink as he shakes hands with Belgium's Prime minister Charles Michel as he arrives for a mini summit ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit

France's President Emmanuel Macron appears to wink as he shakes hands with Belgium's Prime minister Charles Michel as he arrives for a mini summit ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit

France's President Emmanuel Macron appears to wink as he shakes hands with Belgium's Prime minister Charles Michel as he arrives for a mini summit ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit

Theresa May spoke to the media as she arrived for the summit and expressed her frustration over the need for a Brexit delay because 'the UK should have left by now'

Theresa May spoke to the media as she arrived for the summit and expressed her frustration over the need for a Brexit delay because 'the UK should have left by now'

Theresa May spoke to the media as she arrived for the summit and expressed her frustration over the need for a Brexit delay because 'the UK should have left by now'

Earlier EU leaders urged Emmanuel Macron not to 'humiliate' her at tonight's historic summit where they are expected to impose a lengthy delay on Britain leaving the bloc. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk have urged the French President to show respect and restraint  - but Brexiteers claim the UK is already a 'laughing stock'.  

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WITH BREXIT?

WEDNESDAY APRIL 10: EU SUMMIT

Another summit with EU leaders – where May will ask for a new delay beyond April 12. 

May's new plan is to strike a cross-party consensus in London and persuade EU leaders it means the deal can be delivered in time for Brexit on May 22.

She may have to accept a longer extension that means holding EU elections, as Brussels has made clear this is a red line - and will take a decision on delay without Britain and it must be unanimous. 

EU officials including Michel Barnier have warned that the risk of an accidental No Deal is increasing if May arrives with no plan.

THURSDAY APRIL 11: PM'S FACES MPs

Theresa May will return from Brussels with a likely nine to 12 month extension and will outline her plans in the the Commons in the wake of the EU summit.

FRIDAY APRIL 12: BREXIT DAY

Britain is due to leave the EU without a deal on this date if no delay is agreed. 

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said today that Mrs May should not be allowed to 'drift on' if she accepts the EU's longer delay and must quit before she faces another confidence vote. He said: 'It's almost certain she would lose, it would be humiliating'.

But Justice Secretary David Gauke suggested the PM could stay on for up to a year out of a sense of 'duty'.   

And in more bad news for the PM, a new Kantar opinion poll found the Tories have plunged nine points in a month, which would put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10 if there was a general election.  

Tonight the EU is expected to demand a delay of between nine and 12 months to 'allow the UK to rethink its Brexit strategy' along with a 'Boris-proof' clause stopping a new Brexiteer Tory leader ripping up Mrs May's deal. 

Mrs Merkel told Germany's parliament today that EU leaders may well agree to a delay 'longer than the British prime minister (Theresa May) has requested'.

She said she would meet French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the summit with the aim of hashing out a common stance on the length of a further extension.

'I think the extension should be as short as possible. But it should be long enough to create a certain calm so we don't have to meet every two weeks to deal with the same subject.'

It came as the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay admitted the EU is now in control but tried to shift the blame by saying: 'The Government has agreed a deal. Parliament is refusing to honour the result of the referendum'.  

Angela Merkel is believed to have 'taken on' Emmanuel Macron in several recent phone calls while last night Mr Tusk made a personal plea for him to drop his request for a 'good behaviour' review for Britain every three months.

He said: 'Neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated. Whatever course of action is taken, it must not be influenced by negative emotions. We should treat the UK with the highest respect, as we want to remain friends and close partners, and as we will still need to agree on our future relations'. 

Theresa May will hope that this will be the last time she asks for another Brexit delay as she tries to do a new deal with Labour to get it through Parliament

Theresa May will hope that this will be the last time she asks for another Brexit delay as she tries to do a new deal with Labour to get it through Parliament

Theresa May will hope that this will be the last time she asks for another Brexit delay as she tries to do a new deal with Labour to get it through Parliament

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds branded the talks 'humiliating and embarrassing' for the UK, and claimed Britain was 'effectively holding out a begging bowl to European leaders'. 

Tory MP Anne Main has said the UK was becoming a 'laughing stock' and called it 'appalling that we may be seeking an extension with no real sense of purpose'. 

New vote 'within days' if Labour agree a Brexit deal with Theresa May

Brexit legislation could be brought back to the Commons in days if the Government can reach a deal with Labour, ministers said last night.

Two Cabinet sources told the Mail discussions were under way about the possibility of asking MPs to vote this week on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the hope of still leaving the EU next month.

Ministers have also reserved the right to shorten the Easter break by asking MPs to sit on Monday and Tuesday next week if a deal looks close. Under one proposal, the Government would agree to allow free votes on key Labour demands, such as a customs union and a second referendum. If passed, these would then be incorporated into Theresa May's deal.

But a Whitehall source last night said the 'high-risk' strategy would only be considered if ministers were certain that Labour were signed up to it.

'The problem is that if you put the Withdrawal Bill in front of MPs and they vote it down then you have lost if for this session. You would have to prorogue Parliament to bring it back so it's pretty high-risk.'

 

Brexiteer Labour MP Kate Hoey said: 'It does seem really humiliating for this country to have our Prime Minister going over to the European Union to literally beg for an extension. What is this saying about our country?'

During Prime Minister's Questions today Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said discussions are continuing in an attempt to find a compromise Brexit deal - but swiftly moved on.

Mr Corbyn then claimed communities across the country have been 'abandoned' by the Government, adding: 'Official figures show that nine of the 10 most deprived council areas in this country have seen cuts almost three times the average of any other council.

'Why has the Prime Minister decided to cut the worst-off areas in our country more than the most well-off?'

Mrs May said councils have more money available this year and a real-terms increase has been provided, adding: '(Mr Corbyn) voted against that money being available.'

She also insisted leaving the EU in an 'orderly way' will be the best Brexit for the UK after being asked why she is not pursuing No Deal by one of her pwn MPs.

Tory Craig Tracey urged the Prime Minister to consider leaving on Friday in order to respect their party's manifesto commitments to leave the customs union and single market.

He said: 'Do you agree with me that if the best way to do that, rather than deliver the diluted deal which is unrecognisable to many of us who voted to leave, is to go under WTO rules, then we should grab that opportunity and believe in the ability of the British people and the Conservative government to make a success of it?'

Mrs May replied: 'Can I agree with you that I believe a Conservative government will make a success of whatever the situation is in relation to Brexit.

'But I still believe actually the best Brexit for the UK is for us to be able to leave in an orderly way to be able to leave with a deal.' Mrs May added there are some MPs who do not want to 'honour the result of the referendum', adding: 'I do.'

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford then asked if an second referendum has been offered to Labour to lure them into a cross-party Brexit deal - but Mrs May refused to say, adding her position 'hasn't changed'.

European Council President Donald Tusk pictured today

European Council President Donald Tusk pictured today

Boris Johnson arrives at Parliament yesterday

Boris Johnson arrives at Parliament yesterday

Donald Tusk (left today) made a personal plea for Macron to drop his request for a 'good behaviour' review for Britain every three months - but strict rules including clauses to stop Brexiteers like Boris Johnson (right yesterday) tearing up Mrs May's deal look likely

The EU president Donald Tusk has warned tough conditions would be attached to any extended postponement.

And he said the stalled withdrawal agreement would not be unpicked under any circumstances, including the election of a new Tory leader. 

The Prime Minister is asking for a short delay to try to get the agreement through Parliament, possibly in a compromise deal with Labour. But government sources said she was now resigned to a longer period if EU leaders demanded it.

Austria's foreign minister said that she believed a Brexit extension for the UK would be agreed by the EU.

Karin Kneissl told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'In principle, I'm of the impression that this is somehow settled. But, still, I assume that a lot of conditions might be attached.'

Mrs May has insisted she could not countenance putting off Britain's departure beyond June 30 - but is now expected to accept it.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay admitted today that the EU now in control - but blames MPs and said: 'It is Parliament that has forced this - not the Government'.  

He added: 'I don't want to see a delay for up to a year. But, the key with any delay is we are able to terminate it once we ratify in order that we can then get on and get a deal through Parliament, ratify that agreement and leave the EU.

'And I think that is what the EU leaders want, it is what the Prime Minister wants'. 

He also confirmed that if talks with Labour fail, the Government would have to turn 'indicative' votes into 'binding votes' on Brexit options to rush it through. But that would raise the risk of a customs union or a second referendum, which Mrs May previously said were her red lines.

He said: 'The Prime Minister has said that we will come back to Parliament and look at how we then get clarity on a vote.

'One of the challenges there will be is how we have a stable majority to pass the legislation that would follow that vote.

'But, we would come back to Parliament and seek to get a consensus on the various options.'

Mr Barclay said: 'I don't think a permanent Customs Union is a good way forward. We have actually negotiated something better in the Political Declaration.' 

The Prime Minister faced a major Commons revolt last night, with 97 Tory MPs voting against any delay to the April 12 leaving date. Almost 80 more abstained, including a string of ministers.

Labour backed the Brexit day delay, helping it pass by 420 votes to 110. But just 131 Tory MPs supported the PM's plan – 40 per cent of the parliamentary party.

Cabinet ministers Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox, who both abstained, both publicly questioned the PM's tactics.

Mrs Leadsom urged her to ask German chancellor Angela Merkel to reopen the withdrawal agreement – despite the EU repeatedly ruling this out. Dr Fox hit out at suggestions Mrs May could agree to keep Britain in a customs union as part of a compromise with Labour.

Solicitor general Robert Buckland told MPs the UK would be legally required to take part in European Parliament elections if it was a member state on May 23.

But he suggested British MEPs might not have to take their seats if Westminster agreed an exit plan in the coming weeks. 

Downing Street indicated that Mrs Merkel had agreed to an extension of Article 50 in order to ensure 'Britain's orderly withdrawal'.

Eurosceptic says Brexit delay will be illegal and will go not court over it

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Bill Cash tweeted a letter he had sent to European Council President Donald Tusk, claiming that 'any decision by the Prime Minister to accept a long extension to Article 50 is likely to be challenged in the UK courts'.

In his letter, which he asked 'be taken into account' during today's EU Council talks, Mr Cash wrote: 'It is a fundamental principle of British constitutional law that the Government may not use their powers - including their powers to make international agreements - so as to frustrate the intention of Parliament.

'It is very important to note that Parliament's legal intention for the UK to leave the EU is not conditional upon a withdrawal agreement,' he added.

Mr Cash continued: 'There is a clear legal route for the legislative will of Parliament to be delivered: the UK can exercise its legal entitlement to leave the EU on April 12 2019 in accordance with Article 50(3).

'A long extension, without any rationale for how it is needed in order to deliver the UK's exit from the EU, is simply not something to which the Prime Minister can lawfully agree.

'It would amount to a deliberate decision to frustrate the clearly-expressed will of Parliament as a matter of the rule of law.'

But there is the risk that French president Emmanuel Macron, who has questioned the point of further delay, could veto it or impose onerous conditions at a summit in Brussels tomorrow night.

Mrs May can refuse the EU's offer of a long delay. But ministers fear MPs could vote to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether unless a delay is agreed this evening. At a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg yesterday the bloc's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said a short extension was realistic because Mrs May had a plan to break the impasse.

But according to two diplomatic notes seen by the Mail, there was a 'growing trend' and 'convergence of opinions' toward a date much later than June 30.

Sources suggested that EU leaders are now set to extend Article 50 until at least the end of this year.

Mr Tusk last night told EU leaders there was little reason to believe that Mrs May would be able to get an agreement through Parliament by July.

'Granting such an extension would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates,' he said.

He urged EU leaders to agree a 'flexible extension' that would allow the UK to leave early if it could ratify a deal. But he added: 'In the event of a continued stalemate, a longer extension would allow the UK to rethink its Brexit strategy.'

EU leaders have been spooked by warnings from Brexit hardliners, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, that the UK could deploy wrecking tactics if it remained in the EU, such as voting down its budget.

Mr Tusk said the UK would be expected to guarantee it would work in a spirit of 'sincere co-operation'.

Tory Eurosceptic Anne-Marie Morris warned she could vote for Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party in the European Parliament elections in protest at the delay.

And Boris Johnson's father Stanley revealed he hopes to stand as a candidate on May 23, almost three years after Britain voted to leave. 

Tories plunge NINE points in a month amid Brexit chaos as more than half of voters say they now back a second referendum

The Tory party has plunged nine points in the polls a new survey suggests today.

Kantar's latest research suggests the Brexit chaos is finally hitting support for Theresa May's party as the PM seeks a second delay to leaving the EU.

The firm found the Conservatives are backed by 32 per cent, down from 41 per cent in the same survey in March.

The dramatic poll means Labour takes the lead with Kantar after rising four points, from 31 per cent to 35 per cent.

The Liberal Democrats have also gained group, surged three to 11 per cent support in the new survey.

Kantar's new poll also finds more than half of people now support putting the Brexit deal to a referendum.

Kantar's latest research suggests the Brexit chaos is finally hitting support for Theresa May's party as the PM seeks a second delay to leaving the EU

Kantar's latest research suggests the Brexit chaos is finally hitting support for Theresa May's party as the PM seeks a second delay to leaving the EU

Kantar's latest research suggests the Brexit chaos is finally hitting support for Theresa May's party as the PM seeks a second delay to leaving the EU

Across all voters, 51 per cent say it should have a public vote while just 32 per cent are opposed. Leave voters split 53 per cent to 35 per cent against, while Remain voters are heavily split 62 per cent to 22 per cent in favour.  

According to the poll if a new referendum were held, 41 per cent say they would Remain, with 35 per cent backing Leave - with just nine per cent saying they don't know and the rest vowing not to take part at all.

Kantar's new poll also finds more than half of people now support putting the Brexit deal to a referendum. Across all voters, 51 per cent say it should have a public vote while just 32 per cent are opposed

Kantar's new poll also finds more than half of people now support putting the Brexit deal to a referendum. Across all voters, 51 per cent say it should have a public vote while just 32 per cent are opposed

Kantar's new poll also finds more than half of people now support putting the Brexit deal to a referendum. Across all voters, 51 per cent say it should have a public vote while just 32 per cent are opposed

The Tories have been trending down in the polls in recent weeks as the Brexit chaos continues to grip the nation

The Tories have been trending down in the polls in recent weeks as the Brexit chaos continues to grip the nation

The Tories have been trending down in the polls in recent weeks as the Brexit chaos continues to grip the nation 

Fewer than one in four people say Britain should end the impasse by leaving the EY with No Deal, with one in three saying Brexit should be cancelled instead. 

The poll findings were published as EU leaders today urged Emmanuel Macron not to 'humiliate' Mrs May at tonight's historic summit where they are expected to impose a lengthy delay to Brexit on the UK. 

Will Brexit ever happen? As the EU appears set to force May into a year-long extension this is what is likely to happen as Britain's exit is put off AGAIN tonight  

Britain is set to be pushed into a year-long delay to Brexit tonight after Theresa May effectively axed the prospect of No Deal on Friday.

The Prime Minister's hopes of a short extension that expires in June appear to be doomed as she prepares to fly to Brussels following PMQs today.

Views among EU leaders vary - but the expiry of Article 50 looks likely to be shifted to at least the end of this year.

Mrs May could get the option to break the extension early if her deal finally passes Parliament - but EU Council President Donald Tusk has gone public with warnings there is 'little reason' to believe it will ever happen.

French President Emmanuel Macron has taken the most hardline stance, insisting Britain must be tied into strict rules to stop it misbehaving during any new delay. He is highly unlikely to actually veto the delay, however.

When the summit starts at around 5pm this evening, Mrs May will first answer questions from EU leaders - building on a diplomatic blitz that included trips to Paris and Berlin yesterday.

She will then be kicked out of the summit so the other 27 EU leaders can decide what to do over dinner. Only once they have a unanimous agreement on delay will Mrs May be asked to say Yes or No.

At the last summit three weeks ago the EU leaders debated in private for almost six hours. A similar row this time would mean Britain's fate being decided at around midnight tonight.

Whatever happens, the PM must return to the Commons tomorrow to explain to MPs when and if Brexit will ever happen. 

What has Mrs May asked for? 

In a letter to Donald Tusk she formally requested an extension to Article 50 that will delay the UK's departure beyond April 12 to June 30 - but she also wants a 'termination clause'.

This would allow the UK to leave on May 22 - the day before European elections - if a deal can be pushed through the UK Parliament.

However, this delay is a carbon copy of that sought by Mrs May before the last emergency summit in March - which was rejected.

What has the EU said?

Mr Tusk said that a 12-month 'flextension' to March 29 2020 is 'the only reasonable way out' of the crisis and has urged leaders of the EU's 27 member states to back him at Wednesday's summit. 

Ahead of the summit today, Mr Tusk urged the 27 leaders to consider a long delay because there was 'little reason' to believe the deal would be passed by MPs before the end of June.

He said Brexit should be put off by 'no longer than one year' with Britain allowed to leave if and when the deal does somehow get through Parliament.   

If confirmed tonight such an extension is likely to spark fury among Tory Brexiteer MPs, with Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting if we were kept in we should be troublesome to the rest of the EU, politically.

And Mrs May has previously said she would not be able to accept such a delay - suggesting it could prompt her to resign. This could lead to a summer leadership battle in Tory ranks before a new, most likely Brexiteer leader, takes over.

How does the EU make its decision? 

When the summit starts at around 5pm this evening, Mrs May will first answer questions from EU leaders - building on a diplomatic blitz that included trips to Paris and Berlin yesterday.

She will then be kicked out of the summit so the other 27 EU leaders can decide what to do over dinner. Only once they have a unanimous agreement on delay will Mrs May be asked to say Yes or No.

At the last summit three weeks ago the EU leaders debated in private for almost six hours. A similar row this time would mean Britain's fate being decided at around midnight tonight.

When will Brexit be? 

It is hard to say - but it is highly unlikely to be on Friday as the law currently says.  

The PM clearly still wants to get out of the EU before European Parliament elections have to be held on May 22 but this is ultimately up to Brussels. 

Were she to pass the deal in the next couple of weeks, it is probably possible to conclude exit by around late May.

If she fails again however, exit day will likely be pushed back by at least nine to 12 months - setting the stage for a change of PM in Downing Street and possibly either an election or a referendum, or even both.  

What is happening in the cross party talks? 

The Prime Minister has said the divorce deal could not be changed but announced last week she would seek a new consensus with Jeremy Corbyn on the political declaration about the final UK-EU agreement. It is her final roll of the dice to save the deal.

Talks broke down on Friday between ministers and officials from both parties, despite previous efforts being hailed as 'constructive'. After technical discussions on Monday, they finally resumed yesterday - but have now been adjourned again until tomorrow. 

If the talks fail, Mrs May has promised to put options to Parliament and agreed to be bound by the result. Time is short to actually call this vote.

In a second round of indicative votes last week a customs union, Norway-style soft Brexit and second referendum were the leading options - but none got a majority of MPs.  

What does Mrs May's shift mean?   

Mrs May has abandoned all hope of winning over remaining Tory Brexiteers and the DUP on the terms of her current deal.

Striking a cross-party deal with Labour on the future relationship will require Mrs May to abandon many of her red lines - including potentially on free movement and striking trade deals.

To get an agreement with Labour, Mrs May will need to agree the political declaration should spell out a much softer Brexit than her current plans do.

This might mean a permanent UK-EU customs union or even staying in the EU Single Market.

What if Mr Corbyn says No? 

Mrs May said if she cannot cut a deal with Corbyn, she would ask Parliament to come up with options - and promised to follow orders from MPs.

In a second round of indicative votes last week a customs union, Norway-style soft Brexit and second referendum were the leading options - but none got a majority of MPs.

They would probably pass if the Tories whipped for them - but it would almost certainly mean ministers quitting the Government.   

The Institute for Government has mapped out how a crucial week in the Brexit endgame might unfold ahead of a possible No Deal Brexit on Friday

The Institute for Government has mapped out how a crucial week in the Brexit endgame might unfold ahead of a possible No Deal Brexit on Friday

The Institute for Government has mapped out how a crucial week in the Brexit endgame might unfold ahead of a possible No Deal Brexit on Friday 

Will May resign? 

Nodbody knows for sure. Mrs May has announced she would go if and when her divorce deal passed so a new Tory leader could take charge of the trade talks phase.

In practice, it drained Mrs May of all remaining political capital. Most in Westminster think her Premiership is over within weeks at the latest. 

As her deal folded for a third time a fortnight ago, she faced immediate calls from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn so stand down with instant effect. 

What is clear is there is already a fight underway for the Tory leadership.  

Does is all mean there will be an election?

Probably, at some point though the immediate chances have fallen because of the latest events. The Commons is deadlocked and the Government has no functional majority. While the Fixed Term Parliaments Act means the Government can stumble on, it will become increasingly powerless.

Mrs May could try to call one herself or, assuming she stands down, her successor could do so.  

Would May lead the Tories into an early election? 

Unlikely. Having admitted to her party she would go if the deal passes, Mrs May's political career is doomed.

While there is no procedural way to remove her, a withdrawal of political support from the Cabinet or Tory HQ would probably finish her even if she wanted to stay.    

How is an election called? When would it be? 

Because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act passed by the coalition, the Prime Minister can no longer simply ask the Queen to dissolve the Commons and call an election. There are two procedures instead.

First - and this is what happened in 2017 - the Government can table a motion in the Commons calling for an early election. Crucially, this can only pass with a two-thirds majority of MPs - meaning either of the main parties can block it.

Second an election is called if the Government loses a vote of no confidence and no new administration can be built within 14 days.

In practice, this is can only happen if Tory rebels vote with Mr Corbyn - a move that would end the career of any Conservative MP who took the step. 

An election takes a bare minimum of five weeks from start to finish and it would take a week or two to get to the shut down of Parliament, known as dissolution - putting the earliest possible polling day around mid to late May. 

If the Tories hold a leadership election first it probably pushes any election out to late June at the earliest.  

Why do people say there has to be an election? 

The question of whether to call an election finally reached the Cabinet last week.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay warned the rejection of Mrs May's deal would set in train a series of events that will lead to a softer Brexit - meaning an election because so many MPs will have to break manifesto promises. 

MPs voting to seize control of Brexit from ministers has only fuelled the demands.   

Labour has been calling for a new vote for months, insisting the Government has failed to deliver Brexit.

Mr Corbyn called a vote of no confidence in the Government in January insisting the failure of the first meaningful vote showed Mrs May's administration was doomed. He lost but the calls did not go away. 

Brexiteers have joined the demands in recent days as Parliament wrestles with Brexit and amid fears among hardliners promises made by both main parties at the last election will be broken - specifically on leaving the Customs Union and Single Market. 

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen wants Mrs May replaced with a Brexiteer. He believes it would push Remain Tories out of the party and then allow a snap election with more Eurosceptic candidates wearing blue rosettes.

What might happen? 

Both main parties will have to write a manifesto - including a position on Brexit. Both parties are deeply split - in many cases between individual MPs and their local activists.

Under Mrs May, the Tories presumably try to start with the deal. But it is loathed by dozens of current Tory MPs who want a harder Brexit and hated even more by grassroots Tory members. 

Shifting Tory policy on Brexit to the right would alienate the majority of current MPs who voted to Remain.

Labour has similar splits. Many of Labour's MPs and activists want Mr Corbyn to commit to putting Brexit to a second referendum - most with a view to cancelling it. 

Mr Corbyn is a veteran Eurosceptic and millions of people who voted Leave in 2016 backed Labour in 2017. 

The splits set the stage for a bitter and chaotic election. The outcome is highly unpredictable - the Tories start in front but are probably more divided on the main question facing the country.

Labour is behind but knows it made dramatic gains in the polls in the last election with its promises of vastly higher public spending. 

Neither side can forecast what impact new political forces might wield over the election or how any public anger over the Brexit stalemate could play out.

It could swing the result in favour of one of the main parties or a new force. 

Or an election campaign that takes months, costs millions of pounds could still end up in a hung Parliament and continued stalemate. This is the current forecast by polling expert Sir John Curtice. 

Where's Angela? Awkward moment May walked up the red carpet alone after Merkel failed to greet her  

There was an awkward moment for Theresa May as she arrived at the German Chancellery for talks with Angela Merkel – who failed to greet her.

Mrs Merkel traditionally meets important guests on the red carpet, but the Prime Minister was forced to walk down alone before entering the building.

The two leaders then re-emerged to shake hands for the cameras before disappearing again inside. 

Mrs Merkel traditionally meets important guests on the red carpet, but the Prime Minister was forced to walk down alone before entering the building

Mrs Merkel traditionally meets important guests on the red carpet, but the Prime Minister was forced to walk down alone before entering the building

Mrs May after leaving her car

Mrs May after leaving her car

Mrs Merkel traditionally meets important guests on the red carpet, but the Prime Minister was forced to walk down alone before entering the building

A body language expert yesterday suggested that the two leaders were at odds over a Brexit extension.

Mrs May's hand clasp resembled a 'begging gesture' while both women cut 'grim' expressions.

Judi James said: 'It's the huge spatial gap between these two women that gives the suggestion of further separation rather than unity.

'Merkel in particular tends to keep both her allies and her enemies close but this pose suggests some desire to end the conversation.'

It was a different scene when Mrs May later headed to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, who greeted her with a hug and kisses on both cheeks. 

The two leaders talk together on the terrace of the Chancellery in Berlin today

The two leaders talk together on the terrace of the Chancellery in Berlin today

The two leaders talk together on the terrace of the Chancellery in Berlin today 

Tories' open revolt over delay: Almost 100 of them vote against move to put EU departure off to June 30 

By John Stevens and Jack Doyle

Boris Johnson (pictured outside Parliament on April 8) was among Tories to vote against the motion to delay Brexit to June 30

Boris Johnson (pictured outside Parliament on April 8) was among Tories to vote against the motion to delay Brexit to June 30

Boris Johnson (pictured outside Parliament on April 8) was among Tories to vote against the motion to delay Brexit to June 30 

Theresa May faced a mass rebellion by Tory MPs last night on a motion to delay Brexit to June 30 amid claims the UK was being turned into a 'laughing stock'.

Ninety-seven backbench Tories voted against the motion, including former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

And it came as the Prime Minister also faced open revolt in the Cabinet with ministers Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox publicly challenging her Brexit strategy.

In the Commons, and despite a three-line whip, almost 80 Tories were absent including several ministers, leaving just 131 to vote in favour of the motion.

No10 said there would be no disciplining of MPs who did not follow the party line. The Commons approved the motion on the extension request by 420 votes to 110, a majority of 310.

Former education minister Tim Loughton attacked 'saboteurs' on both sides for trying to 'hamstring' the Prime Minister.

He urged French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to veto an extension and 'put us out of our misery now'. 

'If the EU elections go ahead, it is highly likely the UK will elect an army of Nigel Farage mini-me's, who I am afraid will wreak havoc with the European Parliament and wreck your calculations about the balance of power within the EU.'

New Brexit vote 'within days' if Labour agree deal  

Brexit legislation could be brought back to the Commons in days if the Government can reach a deal with Labour, ministers said last night.

Two Cabinet sources told the Mail discussions were under way about the possibility of asking MPs to vote this week on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the hope of still leaving the EU next month.

Ministers have also reserved the right to shorten the Easter break by asking MPs to sit on Monday and Tuesday next week if a deal looks close. Under one proposal, the Government would agree to allow free votes on key Labour demands, such as a customs union and a second referendum. If passed, these would then be incorporated into Theresa May's deal.

But a Whitehall source last night said the 'high-risk' strategy would only be considered if ministers were certain that Labour were signed up to it.

'The problem is that if you put the Withdrawal Bill in front of MPs and they vote it down then you have lost if for this session. You would have to prorogue Parliament to bring it back so it's pretty high-risk.'

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell yesterday joined talks between the two parties in Whitehall, which also included Chancellor Philip Hammond and Environment Secretary Michael Gove. Mr McDonnell said Labour was seeking assurances that any agreement could not be overturned by a future Tory prime minister.

His comments reflect concern in Labour ranks that a Brexiteer such as Boris Johnson could simply tear up any agreement if they became PM after Mrs May steps down.

Mr McDonnell said: 'Some of the discussion that will take place will be about how any deal is secure for the long term and how best to secure that either through domestic legislation or treaty.' He expected the discussions would also cover alignment with the single market and environmental, consumer and workers' rights. Asked whether the Government was indicating it would back a customs union, Mr McDonnell said: 'Not yet – not even changes in language that I detect.' Further talks are due to take place tomorrow.

Meanwhile, an aide to Mr Hammond yesterday said he faced the sack for attending a People's Vote rally where he called for a second referendum. In defiance of the whips, Huw Merriman told the Westminster rally: 'I am determined to play my part – if that means I use my voice and get fired for it then so be it.' 

As Mrs May flew to Berlin for talks yesterday, Commons Leader Mrs Leadsom urged her to ask Mrs Merkel to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement forged last November.

Even though the Prime Minister has long given up

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