There is probably now just a week or so from the end of the Tory conference for Boris Johnson to make a breakthrough on a Brexit deal, or for talks to end.
Why? Well, government sources tell me the EU Commission has been told by British negotiators in no uncertain terms that Johnson will not quit to avoid being forced by the Benn Act to ask for a Brexit delay.
And Brussels was also told that if Johnson is still prime minister on October 19, he will find a way to get round the law and refuse to ask for a delay. So Barnier and Juncker have literally no time to decide if Johnson is bluffing and if there is scope for backstop compromise.
Labour, SNP, Lib Dems and the rest of the opposition also face an imminent deadline to decide whether Johnson is bluffing and whether now the only surefire way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is to attempt to remove him with a vote of no confidence well before the EU summit on October 17.
As you know, senior opposition MPs have told me they are geared up for a vote to oust Johnson.
The titanic struggle over whether Johnson can or will deliver Brexit on October 31 and whether he can survive as PM looks set to reach its climax by end of next week.
Robert Peston is ITV’s Political Editor. This article originally appeared on his ITV news blog
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