Theresa May has just finished a speech in which she made clear – without using those words – that the Government is going to lose tonight’s meaningful vote and that she is now planning for the next Commons confrontation on Brexit.
She managed to get one MP, Sir Edward Leigh, to withdraw his amendment on the basis that she was happy to work with him on ‘creative solutions’ to the backstop. She also promised that ‘the government will work harder at taking Parliament with us’ on Brexit.
But this harder work doesn’t seem to include any moves towards working with Labour on some kind of national unity movement to stop a no-deal Brexit. May spent a considerable amount of her speech attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to the deal, accusing him of acting in his own interest rather than that of the country.
Corbyn for his part produced a very halting speech even by his standards. He said nothing new, though there was a moment when MPs’ ears pricked up after the Labour leader said that politicians ‘have to be for something’. Was he about to commit the Labour Party to a second referendum? No, it turned out, and as I blogged earlier, this is going to cause ructions in the party in the days ahead.
We don’t yet know how bad tonight’s result will be. But we have been given a glimpse of how May intends to get her way out of another defeat.