Theresa May returned from Brussels today with the blessing of 27 EU leaders after they approved the terms of the UK’s exit at a summit on Sunday.
The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal on 12 December, but its approval is far from guaranteed.
More than 90 Tory MPs have suggested publicly they will not vote for it; so has the DUP; and the opposition parties are committed to voting against, which means she simply doesn’t have the votes to get it through as things stand.
But the Prime Minister is nothing if not resilient, and will be pulling out all of the stops over the coming weeks to get her deal signed off.
We outline how she could do it below:
Bribes to MPs
This week the PM’s team will be lining up “sweeteners” for MPs to garner their support for the deal. Rebels could be bought off with tweaks to bits of legislation they care about, or they could even be bought off by the promise of more money for their area. Of course, one of the biggest treats for MPs is the promise of peerages, and Mrs May has already given one Brexiteer a knighthood just last week – with veteran MP John Hayes to become Sir John. The allure of gongs could be used to try and persuade others to get on side and back her.
Getting the public on side
But she could also do with the support of the public too, which is why today the PM will give a statement to parliament in a bid to get the backing of the nation. Jeremy Corbyn has also agreed to a live TV debate which could be a boon for May given Labour’s current muddled line on Brexit. If she can expose the weaknesses of the opposition then her plan will all of a sudden look rather more appetising.
Deal or No Deal
And if not, there’s always the threat of a No Deal. The EU have already confirmed that this is the best Britain is going to get, and economic impact assessments show that the consequences of a no deal could be bleak – so expect to see a lot more of them in the coming weeks.
Such news will likely upset the financial markets, which could be perversely beneficial for May. Under the so-called TARP model the stock market and sterling would tank – which would so scare Tory rebel MPs that they would at that juncture be persuaded to recant and back her deal.
Pressure from businesses
And if that doesn’t do it, pressure from business could tip it over. Big firms are already being lined up to speak out about her agreement to try and pursued MPs of the economic benefits of her deal. They will say it’s better for businesses and jobs to know what’s coming up and how to get properly ready.