The sources say a fresh plan for the bloc’s future being put forward tomorrow by French President Emmanuel Macron could lead to the UK being offered a flexible new membership deal.
His blueprint is expected to win the backing of Angela Merkel, who is on course to return as German Chancellor following today’s general election.
Tory Eurosceptics are concerned an EU attempts to scupper a full exit from the bloc are accelerating following Theresa May’s decision to delay a full break with Brussels for at least another two years.
A senior Conservative MP said last night: “A serious effort to stop Brexit is now underway. I am very worried that we will now never leave the EU.”
The drive for integration among core EU member states is expected to accelerate drastically now the German elections are out of the way.
President Macron is due to give a speech tomorrow at the Sorbonne University in Paris detailing his new vision for the EU’s future.
He will say that France and Germany must press ahead with creating a core political and economic union at the heart of the EU.
The French president is expected to put forward specific proposals in about 10 policy areas including strengthening the economic and monetary union, deepening European defence, re-enforcing EU migration policy and increasing social and fiscal convergence in the bloc.
According to a senior British official in the European Commission, the French President will also revive the idea of an outer right for the bloc with more flexible rules for countries less enthusiastic about the rapid integration among core members.
“A two-speed Europe is his answer to the Brexit problem,” said the commission official.
Mr Macron’s intervention follows the Prime Minister’s crunch Brexit speech on Brussels, announcing the Government’s offer of a two-year “implementation period” after Brexit during which Britain will remain subject to most EU rules and regulations.
Tory Eurosceptics are concerned that the transition will effectively delay Britain’s departure from the bloc and give opponents of Brexit more time to try to minimise the extent of the break with Brussels.
Now some Tories fear the Macron plan could mean Britain being offered a form of associate EU membership that includes some flexibility to introduce curbs on free movement for EU citizens to come to the UK.
Speculation about a possible-last ditch offer from EU leaders has fuelled concerns among Tory Euro-sceptics about the timetable for Brexit.
Privately, many backbenchers have serious misgivings about the plan for a two-year “implementation period” when most EU rules and regulations will continue to apply the UK after the official departure date in March 2019.
The Tory MP said: “The danger is that we are on course for nothing to have changed five years after we voted for Brexit.
“That gives an opportunity for all sorts of machinations and new offers to try to keep us back in.