British cabinet ministers believe PM May preparing to resign

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It may seem like a lifetime ago, but it is in fact just two months since the PM faced a secret confidence ballot by her own party to determine whether she should continue to be Tory leader.

The Prime Minister has spent the last week visiting Dublin and Brussels in an attempt to get changes on the controversial Irish backstop, and was expected to discuss her progress on Wednesday.

Downing Street said Mrs May's statement, which comes a day earlier than expected, will give MPs more time to "digest the content" ahead of a series of expected Commons votes on Thursday.

"We now need some time to complete that process", May added.

The pair agreed to further meetings in the coming days, while their teams will continue to work to find a way forward.

Although MPs could try and engineer votes this Thursday that could reshape Brexit, the expectation is that they will now wait for Mrs May's next update on Tuesday February 26.

May and her government have repeatedly said membership of a customs union would prevent it having an independent trade policy - something they have promoted as one of the main economic benefits of leaving the EU.

That might mean that she's back before the end of this month with something concrete to vote on.

I know that sounds nebulous, a word you might choose to use.

Then, on Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister herself hinted that the government was prepared to do that.

"We are absolutely clear on this: we're not considering Jeremy Corbyn's customs proposals, we're not considering any proposals to remain in the customs union".

Overnight, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel took a swipe at the UK as a "disunited kingdom" where pro-Brexit politicians lack ideas and courage.

Similarly, Liz Truss the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has hinted that she would quit if May chose to keep Britain in a customs union following Britain's departure from the EU.

Swiss Economics Minister Guy Parmelin signed the deal with the British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, in the Swiss capital on Monday.

The prime minister's formal response to Jeremy Corbyn's proposal, in a letter to the Labour leader, stressed her objections to keeping the United Kingdom in some form of customs union, saying this would prevent the United Kingdom making its own trade deals.

Labour has said it will seek to force Mrs May into a decisive second Commons showdown on her Brexit deal by the end of the month.

Some lawmakers want to use Thursday's votes to impose conditions on May's Conservative government in an attempt to rule out a cliff-edge "no deal" Brexit that would see Britain crash out of the European Union without a framework for smooth future relations.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May's delays were fuelling business uncertainty and sapping confidence in the government's ability to deliver Brexit.

Especially when it says and I quote: "the parties will form separate markets and distinct legal orders.' And concedes that it 'can lead to a spectrum of different outcomes for administrative processes as well as checks and controls" nothing is secured.

Economists say a no-deal Brexit would affect more than 100,000 jobs in Germany that depend on trade with Britain, with the auto industry hardest hit.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy told the BBC's Politics Live that there were between 40 and 60 of her colleagues "who are actively looking for ways to support" a revised Brexit deal.

It's unclear she will be able to get any concessions and fears have grown in recent weeks that Britain could crash out of the European Union without a deal.