Theresa May’s extension motion makes clear that she intends to bring her deal back for another vote in the next seven days. The motion states that if a meaningful vote has been passed by the 20th of March, then the government will request a short technical extension to pass the necessary Brexit legislation. (This request would be made at the European Council meeting next Thursday). But if no deal has been passed by the 20th, the UK would request a much longer extension — which would require the UK to participate in the EU Parliament elections.
So, it is clear that the government are going to try and pass the meaningful vote between now and the 20th. There is optimism in government that it might be third time lucky for the withdrawal agreement. The talks with the DUP are, I’m told, going quite well. If they come on board, then a large number of the ERG will fold their tents and vote for the deal.
Jacob Rees-Mogg left himself a ladder to climb down yesterday by repeatedly saying that the only case for voting for May’s deal was if Brexit was genuinely in danger. After tonight’s vote, the case that it is, is much stronger.
But the question is how many of the ERG will climb down Jacob’s ladder? If May only had to overturn a 70-vote defeat, she would be in with a very good chance. But she lost by 149 votes last night, meaning she needs to win over 75 MPs which is a big ask.