Theresa May has been warned not to “surrender” to Labour after a senior minister signalled she was planning to cave in to Jeremy Corbyn’s customs union demands.
Tory divisions burst into the open when solicitor general Robert Buckland suggested the prime minister could compromise on a softer Brexit – triggering an immediate backlash from Eurosceptics.
Prominent Brexiteer Mark Francois called for a vote to allow Tory MPs to demonstrate they have “lost faith” in Ms May’s leadership and warned she could “destroy” the party.
As last-ditch talks with Labour continued, the prime minister was preparing for a whistlestop tour of European capitals in a bid to secure a Brexit delay ahead of a crucial EU summit on Wednesday 10 April.
“The ball is in the government’s court” when it comes to a way forward with Brexit, Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer says.
Talks between Labour and the government began last week, with Theresa May saying only a cross-party pact will see MPs agree a deal in Parliament.
But the shadow Brexit secretary said Mrs May’s team had “not changed its position” on her existing plan.
The PM will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday 9 April.
Mrs May’s spokesman said she was also making calls to other European leaders from Downing Street on Monday 8 April.
She is due at an emergency summit in Brussels on Wednesday, where EU leaders will expect to hear fresh plans ahead of the UK’s scheduled exit date – Friday at 23:00 BST.
On Monday, peers will continue considering a bill brought by senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which aims to force the PM to request a Brexit extension rather than leave the EU without a deal.
Despite communications over the weekend, there were no further talks with Labour scheduled for Monday.
However, Sir Keir – who is part of Labour’s negotiating team – added: “I have no doubt things will develop today [Monday].”