Earlier this afternoon, it was reported that Theresa May would make a statement outside Downing Street at 17.00 or so.

Hurd appears to have misspoken, and confused a press statement with a press conference.  There will apparently be the first later, but not the second.

This is because Cabinet will now apparently not break up until 19.00 at the earliest.  Interpretation one: its members are talking at length, but there’s no real resistance to the Prime Minister’s draft Brexit plan.  Interpretation two: it is running into trouble.  Or maybe the explanation is a bit of both.

Our best guess is that some Ministers are asking for aspects of the draft deal at least to be revised.  There will certainly be calls for clarification.  We will soon find out if there was a push, concerted or unconcerted, for the draft not to be approved, at least at this stage.

If it is correct that Geoffrey Cox is promoting the view that the draft presents no real progress on the backstop, but that it offers a better deal than no deal at all, the meeting is unlikely to be going smoothly.  Brexiteer Ministers unwilling to resign will not wish to go out and sell it to the public on that basis.

The spectrum of resignation expectation has Esther McVey and Penny Mordaunt at one end, as the most likely to go, and Dominic Raab and Michael Gove at the other, as least likely.  David Mundell is a wild card.

As we write, darkness has fallen, and the lectern set for a statement is no longer in view.

43 comments for: May statement due for 17.00 pulled. Cabinet may not finish until after 19.00.

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