The European Union is starting their preparations for Theresa May to bring an “acceptable” Brexit offer to Brussels, should her Cabinet give her permission to close the deal.
Preparations are underway in the Belgian capital to ensure EU officials are ready for the Prime Minister to deliver a provisional agreement, which could be as early as Friday.
EU diplomats remain unconvinced Mrs May will be able to make a breakthrough on the vexed issue of the Irish border but are getting ready.
Mrs May is still yet to receive the backing of her Cabinet to conclude a deal after failing to convince of top table to give permission to her latest plans.
She told minister to “stand by ready” to convene at short notice in order to confirm the deal before it can be sent to Brussels.
After the lack of progress in Westminster, the European Commission asked EU27 ambassadors to reschedule a planned meeting from Wednesday to Friday.
One senior diplomat said the Brussels’ executive explained discussions would be more “substantial” if they were delayed to the end of the week.
Another source said the potential for another Cabinet meeting in London made rescheduling the EU talks worthwhile because they might have a “breakthrough to discuss”.
A third said it was neither a “good or bad sign” for Brexit negotiations because Brussels is still waiting on a British offer.
Ministers from the EU27 will then meet again on Monday to discuss the Article 50 process and will be given another state of play briefing by Michel Barnier’s negotiating task force.
If an offer is on the table from Britain, ministers could also decide whether to put recommendations forward to resurrect plans for an emergency Brexit summit in late November to approve the withdrawal deal.
Mrs May has told her Cabinet she is keen to strike a deal with Brussels in November to allow MPs time to improve the agreement before Christmas.
The Prime Minister’s EU sherpa Olly Robbins and ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow were both in the EU Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters to put the final touches on the withdrawal agreement on Wednesday.
Cabinet ministers are understood to becoming increasingly concerned that Mrs May will remain in the EU’s single market “by the backdoor” by signing up to last-minute concessions.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox told ministers at Tuesday’s Cabinet if they were to continue demands for a unilateral exit to the customs backstop it increases the risk of a no-deal divorce.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt have all argued the UK should be able to quit the backstop on its own accord.
The Irish border remains the most contentious outstanding issue in the Brexit negotiations, and Cabinet ministers have been invited to read a near-completed draft withdrawal agreement, which won’t contain backstop proposals.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove described it as a “great document” after the “reading room” was opened.
Downing Street sources have said the test just shows “where we are so far” and that the development “does not imply that a deal has been done”.
In the past days, Mrs May has held discussions with senior EU figures including Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk.
She will also meet for a bilateral meeting with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte on Thursday evening in Brussels.