The Tory leader is understood to be making contingency plans as she gears up to face the toughest test of her leadership when MPs vote on her revised Withdrawal Agreement next week. Downing Street know that unless Mrs May can break the impasse in Brussels, her deal will be heavily defeated in a series of humiliating votes on Tuesday. With Parliament so split on the direction of Brexit and with Mrs May lacking any substantive support, one ally told the Financial Times: “It’s looking pretty bad.”
Tory MPs told the newspaper whips have warned them Mrs May’s “authority will be shredded” in the event of defeat.
The comments were made against a backdrop of desperate efforts by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay to wrangle concessions from Brussels, with little indication from either side of any compromises so far.
And today Mrs May will plead with EU leaders to give ground in order to help her Brexit deal survive next week’s Commons showdown during a speech in Leave-voting Grimsby.
Theresa May is also expected to head over to Brussels this weekend or as late as Monday morning in the dash to find a breakthrough before March 29.
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The Tory leader saw her Brexit deal defeated by an overwhelming 230 majority in January and has since sought additional concessions on the backstop from the European negotiating team.
But so far the Prime Minister appears to have failed to pressure Brussels into changing the controversial clause, with talks between EU bosses and Mr Barclay and Mr Cox being described as “difficult”.
Theresa May will put her deal back to MPs on Tuesday but if it fails they will be given votes on Wednesday and Thursday about delaying exit day and ruling out leaving without a deal.
The Government was accused of failing to put forward concrete plans to deal with the backstop after “difficult” talks with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
But Mr Cox said his proposals were “clear as day” and government sources accused Brussels of being “intransigent”.
Mr Cox said: “I am surprised to hear the comments that have emerged over the last 48 hours the proposals are not clear.
“They are as clear as day and we are continuing to discuss them.”
The breakdown in talks prompted Mrs May to say the decisions made by the European Union in the coming days would have a “big impact” on the fate of her deal, previously defeated by a whopping 230 votes in January.
The Attorney General is likely to return to Brussels on Saturday.