In a face-to-face meeting, the foreign secretary told the prime minister it was “too much to ask” Tory MPs to vote for the doomed legislation, The Independent has learned.
It is understood that Mr Hunt did not ask Ms May to quit – ahead of a showdown meeting on Friday, when Tory MPs will demand a rapid timetable for her to go.
However, scrapping the withdrawal agreement bill would almost certainly trigger her departure, leaving little purpose in her remaining in No 10.
Mr Hunt’s meeting came as a second cabinet minister – Sajid Javid, the home secretary – piled pressure on the prime minister in a separate encounter.
In a “frank discussion”, Mr Javid is understood to have made clear his opposition to the bill dangling the prospect of a Final Say referendum, in a later vote if MPs clear the bill at second reading.