Theresa May is to write to the European Union asking for Brexit to be postponed until the end of June with the option of a longer delay, it has been reported.
The prime minister also admitted that the country is in a political “crisis” over Brexit.
The BBC reported that one minister said there was “no agreement” in a Cabinet meeting about the government’s next move.
Under current law, the UK is due to leave the EU with or without a deal in 10 days’ time.
The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said the prime minister’s letter will also include a provision for a delay of up to two years.
Another Cabinet source told the BBC there was frustration that Mrs May did not make a clear indiction of which length of delay she would ask for.
On Monday, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, warned that Mrs May had to bring back a substantially altered Brexit deal to Parliament, otherwise it would not go before MPs a third time.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said on Tuesday: “If you were to look back to the speech which the prime minister gave just before Meaningful Vote 2, she said that if MPs did not support Meaningful Vote 2, we would be in a crisis.
“Events yesterday tell you that that situation has come to pass.”
The prime minister says the UK will need a short extension to get the necessary legislation through Parliament, if MPs back her withdrawal deal.
If the prime minister’s EU withdrawal deal is backed by MPs at the third attempt, she says the UK will need a short extension to get the legislation through Parliament.
But she has warned Brexiteers in her party that a longer period will be needed if the deal is defeated again.
Any delay must be agreed by all 27 EU member states.
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Downing Street sources told the BBC there was no final decision in the Cabinet meeting on the length of the requested extension.
The prime minister will travel to Brussels on Thursday to discuss the options with EU leaders.
Ms Kuenssberg reported that House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom criticised her colleagues in the Cabinet, saying it is now a “Remain Cabinet”, not a “Brexit Cabinet”.
1. Cabinet sources say PM is writing letter to EU today asking for extension – frustration that she is going to ask for end date of June 30th, with proviso of up delay of up to 2 years
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 19, 2019
Downing Street said that in the course of a 90-minute discussion at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Mrs May made it clear she wanted MPs to have another vote “as soon as possible”.
Her official spokesman said: “What you can see from the prime minister and her colleagues is an absolute determination to find a way in which Parliament could vote for the UK to leave the European Union with a deal.
“The prime minister has been very clear throughout that she wants that to happen as soon as possible.”
Downing Street confirmed discussions were continuing with the Democratic Unionist Party – which props up the government at Westminster – in an effort to build support for the deal after last week’s 149-vote defeat.
But Commons speaker John Bercow confirmed Mrs May must bring back an amendable motion on the Brexit process by next Monday regardless of what happens in the negotiations with the EU.
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