After 45 years of the UK being part of the European Union, it took just 38 minutes for the remaining 27 members to rubber stamp the agreement on the terms of the UK’s departure, entitled ‘Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relations’. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President was not cracking open the bubbly after the agreement, saying ‘To see a country like Great Britain leave the EU is not a moment of joy nor of celebration, it's a sad moment and it's a tragedy’ adding that there was a ‘shared sadness’ felt by the remaining members and that this was not a moment for ‘raising champagne glasses’.
For Theresa May, that was the easy part, who now, somehow, has to try to persuade the UK Parliament to vote for the deal, although she seems to be putting a brave face on it, telling reporters she’s ‘full of optimism’ as ‘there is not a better deal available’. It’s a good job she is full of optimism because she is going to need every ounce of it over the coming weeks. The stakes are high, when Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary was asked if the deal was voted down, would the government collapse, he did not dismiss the idea. ‘It's not possible to rule out anything, and that's why all of us have to say: what do your constituents actually want in this situation? And we have to work out what's in the national interest, and it's all about the balance of risks’ he said in an interview.
In a bid to play to the fears of MP’s, seek the country’s backing and to try to split the Labour party, it has been reported in a number of news outlets that Theresa May will challenge the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn to an election-style TV debate. According to a spokesman, Corbyn ‘would relish a head to head debate with Theresa May about her botched Brexit deal and the future of our country’.
She will have to get the Northern Irish DUP party propping up May's government onside as well. Over the weekend it said it would vote against the withdrawal agreement, which its deputy leader said would leave Britain in a ‘pitiful and pathetic place’.
May really does have her work cut out, because as it stands, nearly 100 Tory MPs, plus the DUP and Labour have said they will vote against the deal.
To focus their minds, maybe they should take heed of Juncker’s warning that those MPs who think they could get a better deal by rejecting the one on offer will be ‘disappointed’. He told the BBC ‘I am never changing my mind, if the House of Commons would say no, we will have no deal’.