Brexit could be delayed by two months under plans being drawn up by Theresa May to stop more resignations.
Downing Street officials are said to be considering making a formal request to the EU to extend Article 50.
While the UK is asking for a short term extension, reports from Brussels suggest the EU could demand we stay in the bloc until 2021.
Theresa May has been meeting with Donald Tusk in Egypt over the weekend (Picture: AP)Over the weekend the Prime Minister said she would postpone a meaningful vote by MPs on her deal until March 12.
The high-stakes gamble means a final vote on her plan has been delayed until just 17 days before we are scheduled to leave the bloc.
As it stands, if Mrs May fails to get her deal through Westminster then we crash out of the bloc on March 29.
The PM has been talking with EU leaders at an EU-Arab summit in Sharm El Sheikh over the weekend.
But she has so-far failed to secure a ‘deal in the desert’ and there has been no movement on the thorny Irish backstop issue.
Therefore the odds are likely that there will be a repeat of the shattering Commons defeat she suffered last month.
The Tories had three defections last week (Picture: Getty)Last week, three Tory MPs – Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston – defected to the new Independent Group.
Over the weekend three Cabinet ministers – Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark – openly signalled they would support a backbench bid this week to delay withdrawal to prevent a no-deal.
Now it appears that Downing Street officials are drawing up a series of options to try to avoid such resignations.
One such option, according to the Daily Telegraph, would be to make a formal request to Brussels to delay Brexit by a few months.
The length of the extension has not been specified but ministers believe it wouldn’t need to be longer than a few months.
A group of moderate Tory MPs are also rumoured to be on the verge of tabling an amendment that would require Mrs May to extend Article 50 if she cannot secure a deal.
Theresa May is attempting to stop more rebellions in the Tory party (Picture: AFP)Simon Hart, leader of the Brexit delivery group, is reported to want an extension but has stated that it does not need to go beyond May 23.
The EU has previously been willing to extend Article 50 but there are reports they may insist Brexit is delayed for much longer.
European Council president Donald Tusk is said to be resistant to the idea of a short extension, fearing the two sides will be deadlocked again come May.
An EU diplomat told the Guardian that a 21-month extension would make more sense and be much more likely to be agreed.
The 21-month transition period could be replaced with extra time as a member state to allow more debate and shape the future relationship.
Mrs May will meet with Angela Merkel on Monday to see if the German Chancellor can help break the deadlock.