Joe Watts, political editor of The Independent, published an article today titled "Ministers tell Theresa May to force through Brexit by calling election for days after EU withdrawal".
She reports that, in the event the Prime Minister loses both the 'meaningful vote' on her Brexit deal (that she has called) and a subsequent vote of confidence in the Government (that would almost certainly then be called by the Opposition), ministers are urging her to exercise her discretion under Section 2(7) of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 to delay the arising general election until after the UK's withdrawal from the EU has taken effect on 29 March (with "no deal").
It certainly appears that this would be legal—but is it politically likely that HM Government, having lost the confidence of the House over an issue of such magnitude, would delay a general election (the ostensible purpose of which would be to resolve the impasse) until after a "no deal" exit that Parliament clearly does not support has been imposed?
Bear in mind that Theresa May has said that she will not lead the Conservative Party into the next election—so whilst the Government delays an election for "no deal" to play out, the Conservative Party will be searching for a new leader to fight that election: a leader who may of course themselves not support the election being so delayed (not least because their hands would then be thoroughly tied, and they would be campaigning to inherit one almighty mess).
Is it not possible/likely that The Queen would intervene to dismiss the Prime Minister and appoint another, as caretaker for the interim until that election be held (such caretaker likely seeking terms with the EU to postpone the UK's withdrawal until after said election, such that any alternative path revealed by the vote might then be explored)?