If May’s deal is not passed by Commons then Brexit will be delayed only until 12 April
'The EU has handed Theresa May two weeks’ grace to devise an alternative Brexit plan if her deal falls next week after the prime minister failed to convince the bloc that she was capable of avoiding a no-deal Brexit.
After a marathon late-night session of talks, the EU’s leaders ripped up May’s proposals and a new Brexit timeline was pushed on the prime minister to avoid the cliff-edge deadline of 29 March – next Friday.
Under the deal agreed by May, Britain will now stay a member state until 12 April if the withdrawal agreement is rejected by MPs at the third time of asking.
The government will be able to seek a longer extension during that period if it can both “indicate a way forward” and agree to hold European elections.
In the unlikely event that May does win the support of the Commons when the Brexit deal goes to MPs again on Tuesday, the UK will stay a member state until 22 May to allow necessary withdrawal legislation to be passed.
“The 12 April is the new 29 March,” an EU official said.
Donald Tusk, the European council president, told reporters in a late-night press conference that he had several meetings through the evening to secure May’s agreement.
He said: “What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed. The UK government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking article 50.”
Asked how long an extension could be on offer, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “Until the very end.”'
Read more: May's appeal falls flat as EU seizes control of Brexit date