THERESA May will propose formally ruling out a No Deal Brexit — which could lead to delaying Britain’s March 29 EU exit by months.
The decision will mean putting off Britain’s EU exit by weeks or months if MPs still haven’t passed a new divorce agreement in two weeks time.
The highly controversial move will infuriate hardline Tory Leavers.
But allies of the PM say she has come to the difficult conclusion that the personal U-turn is the only way to avoid a “catastrophic” defeat by a Remain ministers’ rebellion.
In a bid to calm Brexiteers’ fury, Mrs May still wants to keep the option of No Deal alive for later in the year as negotiating pressure on Brussels.
Aides were split over whether the PM should make the major concession directly when she addresses the Commons after Cabinet, or just agree to be bound by a future vote for it by MPs.
At a summit in Egypt today, Mrs May was still publicly opposing any Article 50 extension, insisting: “A delay doesn’t deliver a deal”.
But No10 is now sure that Remain Tory ministers along with dozens of backbenchers comfortably have the numbers to defeat the Government in a showdown Commons vote on Wednesday.
PAVES WAY FOR BREXIT DELAY
Unless the PM acts, as many as 60 Tory MPs are expected to back a cross party bid lead by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory grandee Sir Oliver Letwin to enforce a Brexit delay to avoid a No Deal cliff edge in just 31 days time.
A senior Government source who is aware of the PM’s thinking said: “The decision for her now is how to avoid the worst case scenario, not what do we want to do.
“That worst case scenario is losing control of Brexit if Cooper-Letwin passes, and that would be catastrophic.
“There will be a very big row, but nobody can say the PM hasn’t tried her best to stop this.”
Your questions answered
ARE MPs voting on the PM’s Brexit deal this week?
NO. The next “Meaningful Vote” will be on March 12 after fresh talks with Brussels over the Irish border.
WHAT are they deciding on Wednesday?
MPs are due to vote on an amendment by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative Oliver Letwin to delay Brexit to try and avoid a No Deal outcome.
WILL the amendment win?
THE PM’s new promise to take No Deal off the table could guarantee its defeat. As many as 30 Remain Ministers wanted to back it.
WHEN will Labour push for a People’s Vote?
JEREMY Corbyn will call on MPs to back their Brexit plan on Wednesday. If they lose that, Labour will throw its weight behind a public vote next month.
WILL there be a second referendum?
ANYWHERE between 25 to 50 Labour MPs are thought to oppose one so it’s still unlikely. But the odds are coming down each week.
BID TO HALT REMAINER REBELS
No10 expects a “very rocky” meeting of the Cabinet this morning during its regular weekly gathering.
But key figures such as Environment Secretary Michael Gove are expected to back the PM’s move, as it heaps massive pressure on Brexiteer rebels to back a new EU deal when she puts it to a final vote on March 12.
Mr Gove and others are also said to fear that Britain is not prepared enough yet to handle a No Deal Brexit in a month’s time.
She will also be backed Chancellor Philip Hammond and her de facto deputy Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, as well as the four Cabinet ministers threatening to rebel – Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Justice supremo David Gauke and Scotland boss David Mundell.
MOST READ IN BREXIT
One Remain minister also told The Sun that he now believes Mrs May has finally resolved to take on Tory Brexiteer hardliners with the decision to delay Brexit if need be.
The minister – one of up to 30 who has vowed to rebel – said: “Theresa is going to have to confront the ERG eventually.
“I believe that will happen now. Everything I’ve heard from her in the last week suggests she is ready, and she will take no deal on March 29 off the table. That is what we have to hear from here, nothing less.”
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