Lead Brexit negotiator overheard saying 'it's May's deal or a long extension'

David Rosenberg said failing to stand down immediately would lead to

David Rosenberg said failing to stand down immediately would lead to"months more of moaning

Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay denied the claims, while the prime minister reiterated that the government's position has not changed and that she remained committed to the March 29 deadline.

Comments by May's chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, overheard by an ITV correspondent at a hotel bar in Brussels have done little to boost trust among lawmakers.

The group, including Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory former minister Oliver Letwin, have said they are ready to table an amendment enabling parliament to force ministers to seek a delay if there is no deal in place. "If the PM decides we are leaving on March 29, deal or no deal, that will happen", he said.

The comments, overheard in a bar in Brussels, effectively rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Olly Robbins, the U.K. Prime Minister's Europe Adviser and Chief Civil Service Brexit negotiator, arrives for a meeting at the Cabinet Office in London on December 6, 2018.

"What are these negotiations at a "crucial state" raised in the House of Commons?

We want to leave with a deal, and that's what we're working for".

"I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future European Union trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deal?"

And she pledged to return on February 26 with a further statement - triggering another debate and votes the following day - if she has not secured a deal by that date.

Could Brexit cause a Labour split?

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In a Commons statement, Mrs May acknowledged she would need "some time" to seek legally-binding changes from the European Union to the controversial backstop for the Irish border.

A Downing Street spokesperson said they would not respond to reports of a private conversation.

"They have obviously elections for the parliament and a commission that will be formed at the end of May, so there is no desire on the European side to see what one described to me as an "extension in darkness", where there is no clarity as to why we are extending".

There has been concern among Conservative Brexiteers that the Prime Minister could concede too much ground to Labour in an attempt to win cross-party backing for a deal with Brussels.

Veteran Tory Europhile Kenneth Clarke has tabled a further amendment, backed by senior figures from across the House including Harriet Harman, which would allow MPs to vote for their preferred Brexit outcome.

The EU insists it won't renegotiate the legally binding withdrawal agreement, though it is still holding talks with Britain about potential tweaks to a non-binding political declaration that accompanies it.

The prime minister has also said she will lift the requirement for a 21-day period before any vote to approve an worldwide treaty, which means she could delay the final Brexit vote until days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU.

With 45 days to go however, Mr Grieve warned time was running perilously short under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act which requires 21 sitting days before the ratification of any worldwide treaty.

Following meetings with Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel she told reporters: "We feel obligated to do everything for a deal, but it certainly it has to be a fair deal. and there we unfortunately still have a bit of work ahead of us".

He declined to say whether Labour MPs would be disciplined for disobeying the whip in upcoming Brexit votes.

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