At the moment, the Brexit deal isn’t going to pass. As I say in The Sun this morning, getting it through was always going to be tough, but the errors that Mrs May has made this week have made it even more difficult. As one Secretary of State puts it, ‘She would have been much better off spending three days in bed.’
By putting no deal back on the table, she encouraged the ERG—the Brexit hardliners in her own party—to believe that voting against her deal would get them what they want. Her speech on Wednesday night criticising MPs was also ill-judged, given that they are who she needs to win over.
It was particularly mistaken given that May had turned down an invitation to address her own MPs that evening. One normally mild-mannered backbencher tells me, ‘It was offensive to us. You decline to come and talk to us, and then insult us.’
The government’s domino strategy for winning the vote required getting the DUP to come on board. But one Downing Street source tells me, ‘They want the vote to be conceivably won’ before they consider backing it.
There is only one way to change this dynamic: for May to offer to go if her deal passes. This would instantly change the debate.
In the last few days, one Tory MP who wants no deal and another who wants a second referendum told me they’d vote for withdrawal agreement if they had a guarantee she would go. ‘An increasing number of people are saying their vote is contingent on her going’, says one senior backbencher.
As one Cabinet Minister admits, ‘Even that, may not be enough.’ But without it, there’s no chance of the deal passing next week.