Theresa May has been told by a former minister not to “run down the clock” on giving MPs a proper say on Brexit.
Jo Johnson urged the Prime Minister to let the Commons vote on her Brexit deal next week as he expressed concern at the way Downing Street is treating Parliament.
The comments came as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the EU would be more flexible on providing guarantees over the Irish border backstop proposals as Brussels could not be sure Parliament would stop a no-deal exit.
And Cabinet colleague Amber Rudd said the UK’s withdrawal from the EU “is in danger of getting stuck” as she called for MPs across the political divide to build a Brexit consensus in the Commons.
Mr Johnson, who resigned as transport minister in protest at Mrs May’s EU withdrawal agenda, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The time has come for us to hold this vote.
“I am concerned that Number 10 is running down the clock.
“Number 10 could try to leave that vote until the very last minute.
“Effectively, giving the country, giving Parliament no choice at all, except between her deal, flawed as it is – and facing fundamental opposition across all sides of the House – and no deal at all.
“And that’s an unacceptable choice for Parliament.
“We need to get on with it. And the first step is to eliminate her deal from the table.
“It’s simply unacceptable to run out the clock and face the country with the prospect of being timed-out.”
Mr Hunt said Mrs May’s deal could get through the Commons if the EU showed more flexibility on the backstop.
The backstop proposals, aimed at preventing a return to a hard border in Ireland, would see the UK obey EU customs rules if a wider trade deal had not been agreed with Brussels by the end of a transition period.
Mr Hunt told the BBC: “The thing that the House of Commons will not accept is any risk of us being permanently trapped through the Northern Irish backstop in the customs union.
“I think it is possible to get this deal through with those guarantees that we need on the backstop.
“The reason I think, in the end, the EU will want to help us as far as they possibly can is because it is not in their interest to provoke a further political crisis in the UK.
“Because, although some people in the EU may say that Parliament would stop a no-deal scenario, they can’t be sure of that.”
Ms Rudd, who recently returned to the Cabinet as Work and Pensions Secretary, said it is possible Mrs May will ultimately be unable to persuade enough of her own MPs to back the Government’s deal.
The Cabinet minister said it is time to “abandon outrage and accusations” and “try something different”.
Ms Rudd said a “practical, sensible and healing approach” was needed for MPs to coalesce around a deal to avert the danger of Britain crashing out of the EU.
Responding to the remarks, Mr Hunt said: “Amber is absolutely right that we need all MPs to think about the national interest.
“But, I think we also have to be cautious about the idea that we are going to get large amounts of support from the Labour Party.”
A combative EU summit left Mrs May insisting she was still on track to win assurances on the controversial Irish backstop proposals.
Putting a positive gloss on the bruising EU summit, the Prime Minister said further talks would take place in the coming days on measures she hopes will persuade MPs to back the Brexit agreement in Parliament.
EU leaders acknowledged the need to “bring down the temperature” after appearing to rebuff her calls for assurances on the Northern Ireland backstop.
EU tensions erupted into public view when a visibly angry Mrs May was seen berating European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker over remarks he had made during the press conference in the early hours of Friday.
The Prime Minister was apparently infuriated after he described the British negotiating position as “nebulous and imprecise”, and called on the Government to spell out exactly what it wanted from the talks.
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage said he believes the UK may face a second referendum in the coming months and urged Brexit campaigners to “get ready for every situation”.
Speaking at the Leave Means Leave rally on Friday, the former Ukip leader said: “My message, folks, tonight is, as much as I don’t want a second referendum, it would be wrong of us on a Leave Means Leave platform not to get ready, not to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.”