Leo Varadkar: EU is not facing rolling cliff-edge Brexit

Anti Brexit protesters dressed as Theresa May and Angela Merkel outside the EU Commission in Brussels ahead of the European Leaders' summit at which Prime Minister Theresa May will be asking for an extension to Brexit.

With just eight days to go until Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, the petition launched on Wednesday admitted that a second Brexit referendum "may not happen - so vote now".

"On April 12 we have to know where things stand. if we don't have a response by then we will have a no deal Brexit", Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel warned.

Speaker John Bercow had originally refused a third vote on the deal unless what was put forward must be substantially different to be voted on. Once source said the cabinet was in "panic mode" now.

22 May: If the Commons has approved Mrs May's deal, the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union on this date with a Withdrawal Agreement, entering a transition period during which it will continue to observe EU laws but have no representation in EU institutions.

But if the deal fails, London has until 12 April to come up with a new strategy.

A further extension would require Britain to take part in European Parliament elections in May, despite having voted to leave the bloc three years ago.

These pro-EU lawmakers will try to push through a plan next week that would give members of Parliament control of the House of Commons timetable in order to hold a series of votes on alternative forms of Brexit, to see if there is a majority for any of them.

May used her remarks at a second press conference to focus on rallying MPs back home to her deal, urging them to pass the legislation.

Asked about May's view on revoking Article 50, her spokeswoman said: "That is not something she is prepared to do".

The Labour deputy will tell supporters: "Brexit is now stuck in the pipework of Parliament, with MPs split, completely unable to agree or find a way forward". Prime Minister Theresa May said that the petition paled in comparison to the 2016 referendum which she described as "the biggest democratic exercise in our history".

He said the proposed June 30th date "has merits" but also creates a "series of questions of legal and political nature".

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg says the choices for Mrs May are running out, making her leadership hard to maintain. "I think the time is now to deliver for the British people, the time is now to make the decision".

More than 600,000 people have now signed the petition, which calls for support to remain in the European Union, surpassing the 100,000-signature threshold needed for it to be debated in Parliament.

In an address at Downing Street, she said: "Of this I am absolutely sure - you the public have had enough".

  • Jacqueline Ellis