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Divided ministers set for Cabinet showdown after PM gets 'talk to the hand' response from Juncker

A showdown between Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May gained much attention. Credit: PA

Cabinet ministers are spoiling for an open exchange of divided views on Brexit as the fallout from Theresa May's own showdown with EU leaders continues.

A number of ministers are even thought to be reluctantly considering the prospect of a new referendum to settle the Brexit deadlock.

The Times, which reported the claim, said many now consider the PM's deal to be effectively dead in the water after her tense Brussels trip.

ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand understands Amber Rudd is seeking unity with Labour backbenchers to avoid a no deal exit but faced opposition from the likes of Andrea Leadsom and Penny Mordaunt.

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Mrs May is set for another tough political week as she battles to keep her Brexit plans on track after the bruising trip to Brussels.

The prime minister assessment of her EU withdrawal agenda, in light of a tense showdown with European leaders, comes with her expected to make a statement to MPs on Monday.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage said he believes the UK may face a second referendum in the coming months and urged Brexit campaigners to “get ready for every situation”.

Nigel Farage told Leave voters they should prepare to face a second referendum. Credit: PA

Speaking at the Leave Means Leave rally on Friday, the former Ukip leader said: “My message, folks, tonight is, as much as I don’t want a second referendum, it would be wrong of us on a Leave Means Leave platform not to get ready, not to be prepared for a worst case scenario.”

Senior Tories such as former chancellor Ken Clarke urged Mrs May to reach out to Labour MPs to try to find common ground to move forward.

It was also reported that Mrs May told EU senior figures she might as well put her Brexit deal before MPs next week if no further reassurances on the controversial Irish border backstop measures would be coming from Brussels.

The PM cancelled a Commons vote on her Brexit deal scheduled for last Tuesday after she admitted it faced a “significant” defeat.

The Financial Times quoted a close aide to the PM saying: “At the point where there is no prospect of getting anything more from the EU, that’s when you would have to put the vote.”

However, Government sources made it clear to the Press Association that there was unlikely to be a Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement next week.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have insisted there is no room for renegotiation. Credit: PA

Mid-January has been suggested as a more likely date for such a showdown.

But, Mrs May, who survived a bid by backbench Brexiteer Tories to topple her, could face a no-confidence vote from Labour.

However, the Labour leadership has made it clear it will only strike when it considers the Government to be at its most vulnerable.

A combative EU summit left Mrs May insisting she was still on track to win assurances on the controversial Irish backstop proposals.

Putting a positive gloss on the EU summit, the Prime Minister said further talks would take place in the coming days on measures she hopes will persuade MPs to back the Brexit agreement in Parliament.

Theresa May has appealed to the other 27 leaders to help her to get the deal through Parliament Credit: Alastair Grant/AP

EU leaders acknowledged the need to “bring down the temperature” after appearing to rebuff her calls for assurances on the Northern Ireland backstop.

Many Tory Brexiteers, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that Mrs May depends upon for a Commons majority, have rejected the backstop proposals.

The backstop would see the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland avoided by the UK remaining under EU customs rules if no trade agreement is struck with the EU after a Brexit transition period.

The Prime Minister appeared infuriated by Jean-Claude Juncker’s remarks Credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

EU tensions erupted into public view when a visibly angry Mrs May was seen berating European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker over remarks he had made during the press conference in the early hours of Friday.

The Prime Minister was apparently infuriated after he described the British negotiating position as “nebulous and imprecise”, and called on the Government to spell out exactly what it wanted from the talks.

Mr Juncker said he had been able to convince her that his remarks had referred to the wider Brexit debate in the UK, joking: “After having checked what I said yesterday night, she was kissing me.”