Brexit: Theresa May told not to 'run down clock' on deal

Jeremy Hunt warned that the prospect of a no-deal Brexit remains on the table

He is under pressure to launch a confidence vote in the government in the Commons, but has held off so far because he believes May would win.

Theresa May privately warned Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel that the Brexit deal is dead unless they compromise, after European leaders rebuffed her requests for help selling the agreement to politicians in London.

Ms Rudd said she supported Mrs May's deal but advocated assembling a "coalition" to avoid what she called "the rocks of no deal".

In Brussels, EU leaders refused to renegotiate the Brexit deal and several said the problem of its ratification could be resolved only by MPs. The prime minister has utterly failed in her attempts to deliver any meaningful changes to her botched deal.

Downing Street is already expecting both Labour and hardline Tory Brexiters to engineer ways to inflict further damage on the prime minister before parliament breaks up for Christmas.

"If the Prime Minister had listened to our warnings and stood by her public commitments, we would not be in this situation".

Rebel Tories and Labour MPs concerned at the Northern Ireland backstop agreement - which critics fear could indefinitely tie the United Kingdom to European Union rules with London having no scope to end it - will only get verbal reassurances from the European Union on the subject.

Mrs May was seeking assurances with "legal force" that the backstop could only be "temporary".

Speaking at the Leave Means Leave rally on Friday, the former Ukip leader said: "My message, folks, tonight is, as much as I don't want a second referendum, it would be wrong of us on a Leave Means Leave platform not to get ready, not to be prepared for a worst-case scenario".

She has now acknowledged it would not be possible to reopen the agreement to alter the backstop provisions which have sparked mass rebellion among Tory MPs.

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After Mrs May addressed EU leaders at the summit on Thursday evening, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged further clarity from the UK.

"The EU can not be sure that if they choose not to be helpful and flexible. that we would not end up with no deal". "But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the council's conclusions is in fact possible".

He said: "We don't want the United Kingdom to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear".

He added: "We've treated Prime Minister May with the greatest respect, all of us".

And Cabinet colleague Amber Rudd said the UK's withdrawal from the European Union "is in danger of getting stuck" as she called for MPs across the political divide to build a Brexit consensus in the Commons.

With just over 100 days until Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, Brexit remains up in the air with growing calls for a no-deal exit, a potentially disorderly divorce that business fears would be highly damaging, or for a second referendum.

"That's not democracy, that's dictatorship, and we'll not have it".

Northern Ireland-born Labour MP Kate Hoey also gave a speech where she said: "How could any UK Prime Minister agree a deal that separates out Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK?"

The backstop is created to ensure that the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland remains open with goods trade flowing freely.

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