Brexit deal could 'split' Theresa May's party

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party faces a "catastrophic split" if she persists with her proposals on Brexit.

LONDON, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Brexit disarray is threatening to cleave Britain's ruling party in two.

That is the verdict of a former minister previously charged with making the UK's departure from Europe work.

Steve Baker said 80 or more lawmakers are prepared to vote against the prime minister's current proposal, warning that if Theresa May presses ahead with it - her Conservatives face a "catastrophic split".

A day earlier her ex-foreign minister Boris Johnson called her Brexit plans "a suicide vest" wrapped around the British Constitution.

It may seem like party infighting and politicians airing their dirty laundry - but May needs support to get her plan through parliament and the clock really is ticking for the government to present a united front to Europe.

Reuters UK bureau chief Guy Faulconbridge said: "What's really at stake here is actually Brexit - and the future of Brexit."

Mr Faulconbridge said the latest developments could spell chaos.

"It shows how strong the opposition is to Theresa May and it shows the trouble she's going to have to get that deal through parliament.

One of the interesting things about this whole Brexit debate right now is the opponents of Brexit and the very hard Brexiteers are actually united in wanting her to fail. Because the opponents of Brexit want to have a second referendum if everything falls down and collapses and the hard Brexiteers don't want to have a second referendum but they do want it to collapse so they can have a harder Brexit than Theresa May wants."

The strength of opposition towards May will become clear at a party conference this month.

Figures are important in this: May has 315 lawmakers but needs 320 votes in parliament - meaning just a few people could tip the balance away from her plan to Brexit in March.