Mrs May’s top team are locked in negotiations to meet “trouble making” Brexiter demands on preventing the UK from becoming trapped in the Irish backstop. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay are heading to Brussels today where they will present European Union negotiators with a revised copy of divorce deal text. The Prime Minister is expected to join them in a late night dash to the EU capital on Sunday evening after a Number 10 source said “there definitely remains more work to be done”.
Mrs May will then unveil her deal with Jean-Claude Juncker to MPs on Monday morning, just a day before Parliament votes again.
But the plan has been slammed by Brexiteers who have accused Mrs May of trying to strong-arm them into backing her by leaving them less than a day to scrutinise the deal.
Veteran Conservative eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash, who leads a European Research Group panel of lawyer poised to inspect the new deal, said Brexiters need at least two days before giving their verdict on the fresh agreement.
Sir Bill told The Sun: “It would be in the national interest for Parliament to have 48 hours to scrutinise what Geoffrey Cox proposes before the debate starts on Tuesday.
He added: “We all need to make a proper analysis. To do otherwise would be seriously unwise.”
Mark Francois, eurosceptic deputy chairman of the European Research Group, warned Mrs May her plan could implode if MPs are not given ample time.
Mr Francois said: “Because Geoffrey Cox is negotiating this deal, and will therefore be marking his own homework when he advises Parliament, it is critically important that MPs are given good time to look at the detail.”
“Any attempt to bounce the Commons is likely to backfire spectacularly.”
A government source added: “I wouldn’t expect to see anything until Monday.
“You don’t want to give the ERG a weekend of trouble making.”
EU officials have also indicated worries Mrs May is creating a trap to squeeze her deal through the Commons.
A Brussels diplomat said: “People need to be comfortable. They can’t take us by surprise by coming with a text on the last day”.
The House of Commons is expected to vote on the deal on Tuesday, March 12 but any deal successfully agreed by MPs would still have to be ratified by the European Parliament.
Mrs May is preparing for an extremely tight second vote on her deal and, if it fails, the Prime Minister has promised MPs the chance to have a say on committing to leave the EU without a deal the following day.
Should MPs reject a no-deal departure they will then be given a vote on whether to delay Brexit.
Such a delay is a major sticking point, with the EU saying they would only agree to extending Article 50 for a specific purpose, such as a second referendum or to pass required legislation on an agreed deal.
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has maintained the government’s position that Britain is still wants to leave the EU on March 29.
Earlier today, Mr Hunt said: “We all want to leave at the end of this month.
“It depends on how quickly we can get a deal through and then the time that’s necessary for the legislation.
“I think the signals we are getting are reasonably positive.
“I don’t want to overstate them because I still think there’s a lot of work to do, but I think they do understand that we are being sincere.
“I think that they are beginning to realise that we can get a majority in Parliament because they are seeing the signals coming from the people who voted against the deal before who are saying, crucially, that they are prepared to be reasonable about how we get to that position that we can’t legally be trapped in the backstop.”