The President of the European Council's intervention on Twitter this morning will bolster claims that the United Kingdom would not leave the EU until 2021 unless Mrs May (pictured outside Downing Street last night) can persuade the DUP and Brexiteers to back her divorce deal.
If the deal is not passed by then, the United Kingdom would need a longer extension, with reports that the United Kingdom is making contingency plans for European Parliament elections.
However, the extension is not automatic, an EU Commission spokesman reiterated - all 27 of the remaining EU member states must unanimously approve it. With the approaching deadline intensifying fears that Britain could leave the bloc without a deal - a move that economists say could spark economic turmoil - the U.K. Parliament voted Wednesday to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. They have an opportunity to grant such a request at a March 21-22 summit in Brussels.
The longer extension will mean that Britain must also participate in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
The bloc may be open to a long delay, however, to allow Britain to radically change course.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that he will appeal to EU leaders "to be open to a long extension if the United Kingdom finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus about it".
"I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the United Kingdom finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it", European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter.
UK Parliament will vote for an extension on the Brexit date this Thursday.
Trading on Thursday, however, remained relatively calm, the report added.
May hopes the threat of a long delay will push Brexit supporters in her Conservative Party and members of the Democratic Unionists, the small Northern Irish party that props up her minority government in parliament, to back her deal at the third attempt.
"It's still really hard to see how the numbers stack up for Theresa May, but she's giving it one more go", he said.
Britons voted by 52-48 percent in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union, a decision that has not only divided the main political parties but also exposed deep rifts in British society. There's now no majority for that in Parliament.
However, the political calculus could change if the paralysis drags on. The opposition Labour Party has said it would support a second referendum if other options were exhausted.
After the votes, however, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the House, reiterating his support for another referendum.