Over breakfast, the U.K. prime minister and German chancellor discussed the latest Brexit developments, with Merkel pressing May on claims in the British press that the U.K. may seek an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period, according to an official familiar with the discussion.
The 45-minute discussion kicked off a flurry of Brexit bilateral meetings with EU leaders for the U.K. prime minister as she seeks to win concessions from Brussels over the contentious Irish backstop clause.
May also held talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte Sunday morning and will meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Irish leader Leo Varadkar later Monday before flying back to London.
The U.K. government said it had been a “good, friendly meeting” with the German chancellor, but officials would not be drawn on the specifics of what was discussed or what Merkel had said in response to May’s “update” on the developments in London.
May returns to London Monday evening ahead of a vital 48 hours in parliament that could define Britain’s exit from the EU. On Tuesday, she will make a statement to MPs about the progress in her attempted renegotiation, while talks continue at “a technical level” in Brussels.
On Wednesday MPs will vote on a government motion on May’s next steps — alongside a series of crucial amendments which could force the government to seek an extension to Article 50 should she fail to get a Withdrawal Agreement through parliament by March 13.