Downing Street expects the European elections to go ahead next month despite continuing talks with Labour to break the Brexit deadlock.
Senior Government figures believe that cross-party negotiations will break down leaving the UK faced with no choice but to take part.
Both sides remained downbeat about the chances of a breakthrough after talks resumed yesterday – although Labour sources suggested ministers had appeared more open to compromise than before.
However, senior Tories were unconvinced the talks would result in a Brexit compromise deal in time – so the May 22 would go ahead.
One No 10 insider said: “If we get to the end of this week and nothing is resolved on Brexit, it makes it feel very, very likely.”
But other Tory sources claimed their “new goal” was to make sure that no MEPs who were elected ever took their seat.
They would do this by passing the withdrawal agreement bill (WAB) by June 30 or tabling more indicative votes so they don’t need to send MPs to the European parliament.
No 10 is clinging to the hope that Labour could shift its position after the elections and agree to a deal.
Labour sources laughed off the suggestion the party would dramatically change its own policy to save Theresa May ’s Brexit.
The PM’s spokesman signalled that a new Queen’s speech, introducing a new session of Parliament, would not take place until autumn. He stressed the priority of getting the WAB through first.
“That is the legislation which is necessary in order to ratify our withdrawal from the EU. That is part of the current Queen’s speech cycle and we need to finish that work,” he said.