Theresa May is in Grimsby today putting in a last ditch effort to convince MPs to back her deal when it returns to the House of Commons on Tuesday. The view in both Downing Street and the Cabinet is that as things stand it will be rejected for a second time. With no concession on the backstop as of yet from Brussels, there is little chance of Brexiteers rallying around the Prime Minister’s deal.
May’s speech this lunchtime has only served to hammer this point home. The Prime Minister used the set piece to turn her ire on Brussels for the lack of progress. May warned EU leaders that it wasn’t just MPs who have a choice to make – the EU must too:
‘Just as MPs will face a big choice next week, the EU has to make a choice too. We are both participants in this process. It is in the European interest for the UK to leave with a deal. We are working with them but the decisions that the European Union makes over the next few days will have a big impact on the outcome of the vote.’
Now with only five days to go until MPs vote on the deal, No. 10 had hoped to be using any such platform to reveal a revamped deal and herald progress in the talks. The fact that May has instead had to resort to using her speech to lay the blame on Brussels in advance of her deal being voted down shows how little progress has been made. If negotiations were proceeding in a constructive manner, it’s likely No. 10 would have opted for much more diplomatic language. Already there are reports that the response in Brussels to her comments is less than lukewarm.
Adding to May’s woes, her Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is not even in Brussels – instead he is in the UK. A quick glance of the politicians being sent on the airwaves to deliver the government line on the Sunday shows – Matt Hancock and Jeremy Hunt – serves as another reminder the government is pessimistic about the prospect of having a Brexit breakthrough to rave about come the weekend. May’s last ditch plea has only served to highlight the defeat the government is on course for come Tuesday.