Last week, European Council President Donald Tusk claimed the UK still has a chance to negotiate the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU and avoid a “no-deal” scenario
It followed a disastrous EU27 summit in Salzburg in September, which saw member states such as France and Germany unanimously denounced her contested Chequers white paper.
But now, following growing unrest in the cabinet over her plans and the threat of a snap general election, ministers have warned Mrs May that a plan B is expected if she fails to make headway in the next round of negotiations, due to take place on October 16.
Fittingly October 16 is the anniversary of the 1813 Battle of Leipzig – Europe’s biggest ever battle prior to World War I where Napoleon’s forces were defeated by Prussia, Austria and Russia.
EU negotiators and Mrs May are attempting to thrash out a deal over issues such as the Irish border, and how a future trade deal with the bloc would work after the UK leaves the bloc in 2019.
But before the meeting, Brussels is expected to formally respond to Mrs May’s Chequers proposals this Wednesday, October 10.
Meanwhile, the UK is due to publish new proposals on a Northern Ireland “backstop” to avoid creating a hard border with Ireland in the event of no-deal.
The Commission is expected to offer the UK a ‘supercharged’ free trade deal later this week – but is expected to reject around 60 to 70 percent of the Prime Minister’s blueprint.
A Cabinet source told the Daily Mail: “Ministers will let her go to the European Council sticking to her Chequers plan.”
“There will be pressure from various sides. People will then be saying, “what is Plan B? You now need to tell us that.”
The revelation comes after both Mr Tusk and EU Commission head Jean Claude Juncker hinted at a second chance for the UK to negotiate a fair deal.
Mr Juncker said: ‘I have reason to think that the rapprochement potential between both sides has increased in recent days.’
Mr Tusk commented: “I think there is a chance to have an accord by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, leading Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg offered a compromise by agreeing to have EU officials based at UK ports to check cross-border cargos.
Brexiteers would be happy for this to happen, if it paved the way for a looser free trade deal than the PM’s Chequers plan envisages.
In a column for the Sunday Telegraph, Breixteer and former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote: “We can conduct regulatory and customs checks together in a way that respects the EU’s single market, by building on systems already in place at the channel ports.”