Theresa May will attempt one final desperate roll of the dice on her Brexit deal, issuing a stark warning to mutinous Brexiters that they must approve her offer by next week or face a long article 50 extension.
The prime minister was humiliated yet again amid chaotic scenes on Wednesday night in parliament, as her cabinet ruptured three ways and MPs inflicted two more defeats on the government to demand no deal should be taken off the table permanently.
In an unprecedented night of Tory splits, four cabinet ministers, Amber Rudd, David Mundell, David Gauke and Greg Clark, defied their party’s last-minute whip and refused to vote against the government’s own motion, after it was amended to rule out any prospect of no-deal Brexit.
Six other cabinet ministers also splintered to back a separate proposal for a “managed no deal”, despite the prime minister’s warning that the plan was doomed.
After her defeat, May signalled she would gamble one last time on forcing through her Brexit deal, bringing forward a motion on Thursday on delaying Brexit which would “set out the fundamental choice facing this house”.
If MPs agreed a deal, she said, the government would request a “short, technical extension” to article 50, a hint that May plans a third meaningful vote next week.
Without an agreed deal, she said, there would be a “much longer extension” that would require the UK to take part in European parliament elections. “I do not think that would be the right outcome,” May said.
In a defiant reply, Steve Baker, the vice-chair of the European Research Group of hard Brexiters, said rebel Eurosceptics would not be cowed. “I’ll say to the government now, when…