Professor Tony Travers, director of LSE London, made his remarks against a backdrop of desperate efforts by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to wrangle concessions from Brussels, with little indication from either side of any compromises so far. He told Express.co.uk: “It’s likely that Geoffrey Cox has not got much. “The thing it is not clear what the core via within the EU27 is – do they want a second referendum, do they want a delay, I just don’t know.
“There comes a point when Theresa May cannot delay this vote anymore.
“She’s quite well known for delaying votes but this time coming to Parliament and saying I have to go back to Brussels for one more try won’t work.”
After Mrs May told the Commons last month she would allow a vote on whether to request a delay to Article 50 if her Brexit divorce deal is once again rejected by MPs, there were suggestions she had effectively taken a no-deal Brexit off the table.
But Mr Travers said: “I think a no deal situation is definitely still a possibility.”
One of the problems was the lack of clarity when it came to a way forward, he explained.
If for instance MPs voted down Mrs May’s plan and subsequently rejected no deal and the idea of delaying Article 50, there was a distinct possibility of “no deal by default” because on the face of it that would be the fall-back position, he said.
Equally, there remained the possibility of Parliament taking control of the entire Brexit process, a strategy advocated by former Attorney General Dominic Greave, with the implications of such a development not completely clear.
Mr Cox’s talks with European leaders earlier this week broke down, prompting 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.
Mrs May is ready to use a speech in Grimsby to say the Government remains determined to secure legally binding changes to the backstop, and will urge the EU to agree.
She will say: “We are both participants in this process.
“It is in the European interest for the UK to leave with a deal.
“We are working with them but the decisions that the European Union makes over the next few days will have a big impact on the outcome of the vote.”
The European Commission has confirmed “technical talks” were continuing and said president Jean-Claude Juncker was “available 24/7” to meet Mrs May if a deal was close.
In the Commons, Mr Cox said the talks would “almost certainly” carry on through the weekend.
In practical terms the Government needs an agreement by Sunday night at the latest as any new documentation relating to the deal must be published by Monday – the day before the vote.
Mr Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay are likely to return to Brussels on Friday in a final bid to secure an agreement ahead of next week’s crunch vote.