Mr. Tusk suggested that, whatever deal Mrs. May envisioned, she should build support for it in London before asking leaders of other European nations to support it. That would avoid a repeat of last month’s spectacular defeat, in which Parliament roundly rejected a Brexit deal that Mrs. May had brokered with Europe.
“You should get a vote or do a deal with Corbyn first,” Mr. Tusk said, according to the document.
“May barely reacted,” the document states.
Experts said Mrs. May’s ambiguity was somewhat strategic, reflecting a difficult political position. “Whenever the government writes anything down or gives any details, it produces a negative reaction,” said Tony Travers, professor of government at the London School of Economics. “So the great beauty of having an unstated, ambiguous position is it keeps everybody on side back in London.”
The result, he said, was that Ms. May went into negotiations without a position and without anything to request. “She’s saying, ‘I need you to give me something. Tell me what it is,’ ” Professor Travers said.
But time is running out. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, and business leaders, economists and other experts warn that leaving without a deal on trade, borders and other issues could be disastrous.
With no support for the withdrawal agreement she brokered, and no sign that she can negotiate a better one in the next few weeks, Mrs. May has few options. Opposition party members have accused her of stalling for time, gambling that lawmakers will ultimately back her deal when faced with the prospect of a either no-deal Brexit or no Brexit at all.
Many European officials also see that calculation at work. The document obtained by The Times concludes that Ms. May’s visit was essentially a stalling tactic.
“The visit was just to win time, because content-wise it was nothing.”