Prime minister says Brexit could ‘slip through our fingers’ as Tory party fears that taking part in EU election would boost far right

Theresa May is being warned by her mutinous MPs that they will move to oust her within weeks if the UK is forced to take part in European elections next month and extend its EU membership beyond the end of June.

Tory MPs are increasingly angry at the prospect of voters being asked to go to the polls to elect MEPs three years after the Brexit referendum, in an election they fear will be boycotted by many Conservatives and be a gift to the far right and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party. Senior Tories said one silver lining of a long extension would be that it would allow them to move quickly to force May out, and hold a leadership election starting as soon as this month.

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