If Theresa May wants an indication of how well things are going for a third meaningful vote, she could do worse than to look at the result of a vote on a statutory instrument in the Commons tonight. MPs have just approved the official piece of legislation that acknowledges Britain is no longer leaving the European Union on 29 March – but with a substantial rebellion.
There were 105 MPs who voted against this change of date, with impassioned speeches from Tory Brexiteers in the Commons arguing against the move, even though it had already been approved in international law. Their line was that Britain should just leave now, and that the Remain majority in Parliament has shaped Brexit in a way the Leave campaign could never have envisaged. Those trying to push May’s deal over the line might argue that it is the recalcitrance of the European Research Group that has led to the real chance of a much softer Brexit or no Brexit at all, but never mind: 105 MPs agreed with those impassioned Brexiteers. This is more than the number of MPs believed to be in the ERG.
Of course, more significant is the announcement by the DUP this evening that it still won’t support a meaningful vote. As James says, there is still room for a late dash by the government to win the DUP round at the last minute. But it’s worth May – who has been spectacularly bad at reading Parliament – noting that the wind blowing through the Chamber is still a chill one.