Theresa May is targeting July 1 as the day Britain leaves the EU after abandoning a deadline for a Brexit agreement with Labour.
David Lidington, the cabinet office minister, said the British government was “redoubling” its efforts to ensure a Brexit deal is passed by Parliament in time to prevent MEPs taking up their seats in Brussels.
If that proves impossible, the government will make sure the EU Withdrawal Agreement is “done and dusted” before Parliament rises for the summer, meaning Brexit day would be August 1.
It means that Mrs May has now set five separate dates for Britain to leave the EU.
Talks with Labour broke up without an agreement yesterday, and will resume today, but Mrs May gave up her hopes of reaching an agreement with Labour this week.
The prime minister had made it clear last week that she wanted the negotiations with Labour wrapped up by now, but sources said her ambition had switched to “getting a sense of whether a deal can be done”.
Meanwhile, Mrs May was last night given until teatime today to come up with a “road map” to her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party – or have one forced upon her.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, is understood to have made clear their frustration last night.
Exasperation with Mrs May boiled over after Mr Lidington, her de facto deputy, confirmed that Britain would fight the European elections in 15 days’ time despite months of assurances to the contrary.
Mrs May’s spokesman added it was “a matter of deep regret to the prime minister that we have not been able to deliver Brexit on time”.
Mr Brady is understood to have given Mrs May until 4pm to set out a “road map” for her departure from No 10.
Tory sources speculated that his view on Mrs May’s tenure in No 10 had hardened in the wake of last week’s disastrous local election results.
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