May’s office on Monday confirmed media reports suggesting the premier will be in Strasbourg for talks with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The trip comes just hours before the British parliament is to convene a second vote on May’s Brexit deal as the government struggles to secure an orderly withdrawal from the EU at the end of March.
Reports suggest May has little chance of going through the House of Commons with the deal she signed with the EU in November. The opposition Labour Party said earlier on Monday that May had failed to bring about a single change to the Brexit document which suffered a historic defeat in a first Commons vote in January.
Critics of May’s deal in her own Conservative Party, however, have vowed they would support the deal if the EU gives legal guarantees that a mechanism in the agreement which sets out rules for administration of the Irish border after Brexit would be temporary.
There was no clear suggestion from the EU until Monday whether the so-called Irish backstop had been changed so that it could win the support of pro-Brexit lawmakers in the Commons.
The EU said before May’s trip to Strasbourg that it was now up to the British lawmakers to decide on the fate of Brexit.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the EU was expecting Britain to respond to proposals on the backstop.
However, government sources said May’s direct talks with Juncker on the eve of the second parliament vote on Brexit deal would be the right way to progress at the current critical moment.
May has allowed the parliament to vote on other options on Brexit if they reject her deal on Tuesday, including a no-deal withdrawal or an extension to the two-year negotiating period.
Experts believe there is no clear majority in the Commons for a delayed Brexit, meaning that Britain would have no option but to accept a hard Brexit on March 29 if the parliament rejects the current Brexit deal.