With 77 days to go May has no option to halt movement between London and Brussels as she knows the no deal scenario would strike Britishers hard in various ways so to make a safe way out would be huge relief.
In the current scenario EU members intends Britain would keep paying into the EU budget for years after a no-deal Brexit under contingency plans drawn up by the European Commission.
In a move likely to enrage Brexiteers and cause yet another political row in Westminster, on Wednesday Brussels unveiled proposals for the UK to keep up its payments for the 2019 EU budget and beyond.
The UK would have to consent to the plan, with a deadline to agree set for 18 April – deliberately placed after the effects of a no-deal would have become apparent.
“What we were thinking is we need to give a period which would allow some time for reflection,” one EU official said of the chosen cut-off date.
The EU says keeping up payments would help soften the impact of the no-deal cliff edge in areas such as agriculture and research funding that rely on EU payments.
The commitment would cover any EU contracts in effect on 30 March 2019 when the UK is due to crash out. Some of the contracts last two or three years, meaning payments could continue for some time.
“As highlighted on many occasions, all commitments taken by the 28 Member States should be honoured by the 28 Member States,” A statement released by the European Commission said.
“This is also true in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, where the UK would be expected to continue to honour all commitments made during EU membership.”
The statement continues: “Today’s proposal enables the EU to be in a position, in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, to honour its commitments and to continue making payments in 2019 to UK beneficiaries for contracts signed and decisions made before 30 March 2019, on condition that the UK honours its obligations under the 2019 budget and that it accepts the necessary audit checks and controls.
“This would help mitigate the significant impact of a “no-deal” scenario for a wide range of areas that receive EU funding, such as research, innovation or agriculture.
“This issue is separate from and without prejudice to the financial settlement between the EU and the United Kingdom in a no-deal scenario.”
Officials admit they cannot force the UK to make any payments once it has left the bloc, though they hope Britain will take up the offer.
Though the EU has ruled out doing ‘side deals’ with the UK to soften a no-deal Brexit, the move on the budget contributions suggests the commitment is open to interpretation.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.