MPs may have their Christmas holidays cut short to pass Brexit laws because of the political impasse with Brussels.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland said parliamentary breaks may have to be cancelled or curtailed if agreement between the UK and the EU was not reached on schedule in October.
“The clock is ticking,” said Mr Buckland, who has been a key figure in negotiations between the Government and Conservative rebels. “Parliamentary time will be very tight if there isn’t an agreement by October and it runs into November then we’re going to be working overtime to get all this through.”
He said emergency legislation would not be needed but told the BBC’s Westminster Hour: “We’re going to perhaps have to look at a few recesses and actually the time that we use in Parliament in order to make sure that everything is thoroughly debated.”
His warning was not endorsed by the Prime Minister’s spokesman, who said: “The Bill was published before the recess and will be debated by Parliament in the usual way.”
The confusion follows a weekend of sometimes contradictory messages from the Government about the chances of a deal being reached at all.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the probability of a no-deal outcome was “60-40” — only for No 10 to say it was “confident” of a deal.
Mr Buckland indicated that the Government hopes that leaders of the 27 other EU states will back Theresa May’s arguments.
“The reality is that as we get close to the wire, the views of the member states will become more important,” he said.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Telegraph that the European Union would be making a “massive miscalculation” if it thought the UK was not ready to walk away with no agreement.
Brexit backer Sir Bernard Jenkin claimed there would be “rioting in the streets” in EU countries if their producers faced extra barriers trading with Britain.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The civil service and the Government are feeding the industry and the industry is feeding the Government with this diet of gloom and alarm and despondency. Actually, it’s unnecessary and we will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about, a bit like the millennium bug.”
Theresa May Prime Minister met French president Emmanuel Macron at his summer retreat on Friday and ministers have been dispatched across the continent to deal directly with their counterparts in what has been seen as an attempt to cut out the European Commission’s bureaucrats.