Theresa May travelled to Brussels on Thursday and was offered a Brexit extension by the EU27 until May 22, dependent on her withdrawal agreement passing in the House of Commons. But, if the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement is rejected by MPs, the UK will have until April 12 to set out whether it wants to leave the EU with no deal, or extend the divorce process further. Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Agnès Poirier, a French author and journalist, claimed the offer was a result of EU leaders realising “at some point” Prime Minister Mrs May “was going to go”.
Asked whether a change in leadership would alter the “attitude of Brussels” to the Brexit process, Ms Poirier said: “No, I don’t think it would.”
She added: “Actually, what I think happened in Brussels on Thursday was very striking.
“After 90 minutes she took questions from the 27 EU leaders and they realised she is going to go at some point, I think it’s sooner.
“Hence, the option two that they put on the table which I think was very intelligent, quite creative and even generous.
“Basically, they are saying to the House of Commons, you have got two weeks, not much, and you can take over. This is what Britain is known and admired in the whole world for, British democracy and the House of Commons which has been sidelined.”
On Thursday the Prime Minister received the Brexit extension offer from the EU, which depends on her getting her deal through the House of Commons.
Speaking in Brussels on Friday, the President of the European Council said he was “happy” about the decision by the EU27, as he insisted the fate of Britain “is in the hands of our British friends”.
He said: “As regards to Brexit the European Council formalised last nights decisions by the EU27 and the UK to delay the cliff edge and allow for an extension. Personally, I am really happy about this development.
“As I said yesterday it means that until April 12 anything is possible. A deal, a long extension, if the UK decided to rethink its strategy, or revoking Article 50 which is a prerogative of the UK Government. The fate of Brexit is in the hands of our British friends. We, the EU, are prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. As you know, hope dies last.”
The Prime Minister was expected to bring her deal back to the Commons next week, but on Friday evening, Mrs May wrote a letter to MPs suggesting she may not bring her deal back if there is not enough support for it across the House.
Mrs May was also dealt a huge blow over the weekend with a series of reports suggesting she could be ousted with David Lidington, Jeremy Hunt or Michael Gove to take over.
Mrs May’s former policy adviser MP George Freeman said it was “all over for the PM”, tweeting: “She’s done her best. But across the country, you can see the anger.
“Everyone feels betrayed. Government’s gridlocked. Trust in democracy collapsing. This can’t go on. We need a new PM who can reach out (and) build some sort of coalition for a PlanB.”
The Sunday Times reported 11 Cabinet ministers had told the paper they wanted Mrs May to make way for someone else and that the Prime Minister’s de facto deputy Mr Lidington was in line to take over the helm.
But, the Mail on Sunday reported ministers were trying to install Environment Secretary Michael Gove as a caretaker leader.
Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Chancellor Philip Hammond said changing the Prime Minister would not “solve the problem”, but he refused to be drawn on whether his colleagues had approached him asking him to make an intervention.
Asked about Mr Lidington being installed as a caretaker prime minister, Mr Hammond said: “That’s not right at all. My position is that this isn’t about individuals: this is about how we move forward.
“The Prime Minister’s deal is my preferred way forward but I’m realistic that we may not be able to get a majority for the Prime Minister’s deal and if that is the case then Parliament will have to decide not just what it’s against, but what it is for.”
Mr Lidington dismissed speculation he could replace the Prime Minister. Speaking to reporters in his Aylesbury constituency, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said: “I don’t think that I’ve any wish to take over from the Prime Minister who I think is doing a fantastic job.
“I tell you this: one thing that working closely with the Prime Minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task. I have absolute admiration for the way she is going about it.”