With just three months to go until the UK is due to leave the EU and the Commons still deadlocked, there is mounting acceptance that the timetable will need to be pushed back.
In theory a handful of Bills, including the Withdrawal Agreement Implementation Bill, need to make it through Parliament before the Article 50 process comes to an end.
Downing Street again insisted today that the exit date will not be delayed beyond March 29.
But a Cabinet minister told MailOnline a short extension would probably be required even if the PM’s deal is passed by MPs.
Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) has insisted that Brexit will not be delayed beyond March 29
The Commons could cancel recess days to help speed the process, but it is unlikely to be enough.
However, the minister suggested the EU and Brexiteers would not object if there was an agreement ready to be put in place.
‘It will be difficult to pass the legislation by the end of March, even if the deal goes through. But no-one is going to object if we need a couple more weeks,’ they said.
Another senior minister told the Evening Standard the schedule for leaving the EU was now almost certain to be pushed back.
‘The legislative timetable is now very very tight indeed,’ they said.
‘Certainly, if there was defeat on Tuesday and it took some time before it got resolved, it’s hard to see how we can get all the legislation through by March 29.’
The Foreign Secretary insisted the developments in Parliament over the past few days had shown it wants to block the UK from crashing out without an agreement.
Accusing Speaker John Bercow of a campaign to ‘frustrate’ the government, Mr Hunt said there was now a ‘possibility in sight’ of the country not leaving the EU at all.
But he warned that failing to deliver Brexit in the wake of the 2016 referendum would be a ‘fundamental breach of trust’ with the public.
The PM has been making increasingly desperate efforts to turn the tide of opinion on her plan – including reaching out to Labour MPs and union leaders.
However, senior figures concede that defeat is looking inevitable, with estimates suggesting it could be the biggest ever.
Jeremy Hunt (pictured) warned MPs that killing off Mrs May ‘s Brexit deal in a Commons showdown could well mean no Brexit at all