Here in Brussels, outside of the European Council building where EU leaders are meeting, all the talk is about what happens when – not if – Theresa May loses the third vote on her withdrawal agreement next week.
But you will not hear any of that in public when, as expected, the EU grants Theresa a short extension to the Brexit process later today. That's because the EU cannot be seen as interfering in the internal politics of the nation – especially about leaving the Union.
The EU could, of course, suggest a longer extension. But that would almost certainly mean the UK taking part in elections to the European Parliament, something neither side wants. A longer extension would only be available on the proviso that the UK was able to present a credible alternative plan to May's.
Considering the current deadlock in Westminster, the only way out of this seems something drastic: A change of leadership, a change of government, a second referendum. But the optics of the EU as suggesting that could be toxic.
Rumors are swirling that certain Members of Parliament ̵
But the optics of this would have been managed carefully – the EU seizing control over Brexit from a sitting Prime Minister and handing it to lawmakers is not a great look, either.
So, while everything that is said and done at this summit is important;