BRUSSELS fears the chances of a no deal Brexit are now as high as 90 per cent after Theresa May’s latest calamitous Commons defeat.
EU diplomats warned the PM she is on her “last chance” to salvage a Brexit deal – but warned that privately the mood is “black”.
While Michel Barnier told EU ambassadors that Thursday night’s defeat showed the PM’s bid to get a deal through with Tory support had “failed”, according to a source.
He told a breakfast meeting of member states the ERG’s decision to abstain showed there was no majority within the party for any deal.
He said Britain is still seeking a legally binding time limit to the backstop despite being repeatedly rebuffed in Brussels.
The Eurocrat said the only way forward is a cross-party agreement with Labour – but Mrs May’s talks with Jeremy Corbyn have made the chances of that smaller.
An EU diplomat told The Sun: “The mood is bleak and black. We’re approaching the last chance to save the Withdrawal Agreement.
“The feeling is that the chances of no deal are now extremely high – 70, 80, 90 per cent. But we’ll stay the course.”
PRESSURE ON MAY
Meanwhile, Tory Remainers and Brexiteers both turned the screw on the PM by warning her Government is teetering on the brink of collapse.
Tory MP and senior Brexiteer Steve Baker said the DUP would pull their support for the Tories if the hated backstop remains in place.
He said: “Were this deal to pass through Parliament with this backstop on Labour votes, the Government would subsequently collapse because the DUP would not be able to maintain confidence and supply.
“I’m absolutely convinced our position is eminently reasonable and right.”
While Tory Remainer rebel Dominic Grieve said at least a dozen ministers – including up to half a dozen from the Cabinet – are ready to quit to stop a no deal.
After yesterday’s humiliating defeat, the PM and her ministers scrambled to reassure Europe that she can still get a deal over the line.
Mrs May held calls with the leaders of Poland, Estonia and Lithuania as part of a diplomatic push, and will speak to more leaders in the coming days.
While Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay held talks with ambassadors from the 27 EU member states in London yesterday.
FRANCE AND IRELAND WEIGH IN
But European leaders publicly lashed the PM over her defeat, and said the UK needs to decide whether it wants a deal or not.
France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau said Britain must “hurry up”.
She said: “I’m telling our British friends that it is about time to decide whether to leave on friendly terms or abruptly.
Ireland’s PM Leo Varadkar said anyone in Britain expecting the EU to break ranks with Ireland was in for “a nasty surprise”.
Brussels fears the PM is now on a “self-defeating path” and that she will choose to keep her party over getting an agreement.
Donald Tusk recently grilled the PM on whether she realised what impact no deal would have on normal Brits, according to a source.
Mrs May did not respond to his point, but did tell the EU chief Tory unity was more important to her than working on a compromise with Labour.
Brussels also suspects the PM’s protestations that she is working with the opposition are a “charade” designed to string the EU along.
European negotiators have complained that trying to work with Mrs May is “like talking to a robot” and that she only reads from scripts.
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Yesterday it was reported Britain is prepared to ditch its demands to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement and accept surgical tweaks to the backstop.
But the PM’s official spokeswoman insisted that Mrs May is still looking at reopening the Withdrawal Agreement.
She said: “We are looking for changes to the backstop. We are looking to deliver those as soon as possible so we can bring the meaningful vote back.”
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