Brexit: The 'ifs' surrounding May's delay

Laura Kuenssberg
Political editor
@bbclaurakon Twitter

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image copyrightUK Parliament

There aren't many certainties around tonight.

The EU will probably give Theresa May the short delay she seeks - but only if she achieves what has eluded her for months, and she passes her deal through Parliament.

Reluctant Tories and some concerned Labour MPs could move to help her if faced with that deal or no delay - implying leaving with no deal at all.

If that doesn't happen, and Parliament tries to force a longer delay for a different approach, then the prime minister might quit.

If, if, if.

But it is a picture that might become clearer in the next 24 hours.

What is beyond doubt now is that the prime minister herself has officially relinquished one of her central goals - not just taking us out of the EU, but taking us out of the EU on time.

It is still quite possible that Theresa May will grind her opponents into submission in the end, snatching a significant but sombre victory from the jaws of what feels like routine defeat.

But it's likely that losing the timetable for departure is a prelude to her bigger political prize slipping away - leading us out of the EU with her deal.

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