EU leaders are set to offer British prime minister Theresa May a year-long Brexit extension this evening to avoid a no deal cliff edge - but with strict conditions that risk causing another diplomatic war.
European Council president Donald Tusk will put forward the plan to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other leaders at the special EU summit in Brussels this evening, provided Britain participates in next month's MEP elections.
However, French president Emmanuel Macron and other member states are expected to insist the deal comes with conditions which would prevent Britain using the new delay to undermine the EU.
At this evening's EU summit, which is expected to begin with a 90-minute discussion with Ms May from 5.30pm Irish time before EU leaders meet privately, officials will discuss:
* Ms May's bid to obtain an extension to June 30, which is unlikely to be accepted by the EU
* Mr Tusk's suggestion of a 12-month "flexi"-extension which would allow Britain to leave at any time over the next year if they are able to pass a deal through parliament
* add ons to Mr Tusk's plan that would insist Britain is only allowed a year-long extension if it agrees to run candidates in next month's MEP elections
* further conditions to only allow Britain to remain for one year if it takes a back seat to future EU budget talks and other matters
* and a third back up option to the June 30 and year-long extensions which could see Britain crash out with no deal on June 1 if London refuses to take part in the MEP elections
It is understood French president Emmanuel Macron and others are keen to tie down the conditions to the year-long delay before it is offered to Ms May.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said yesterday it is vital the EU leaves the light on for Britain and offers it a deal that can be accepted, while Mr Tusk said it is important the EU does not to humiliate the UK.