Mark Casci: Why I am probably alone in feeling sorry for Theresa May

I know this will not be a popular opinion but I may just be the only person in the whole country, outside of perhaps her family and friends, who feels sorry for the Prime Minister.

Does Theresa May still have time to save her domestic agenda?
Does Theresa May still have time to save her domestic agenda?

Her trip to Strasbourg last night delivered the improbable, another concession from the EU, this time regarding legal assurances on the contentious Backstop arrangement.

Time will tell now as to whether or not it will satisfy those who opposed it. Labour is almost certain to vote against. It wants a General Election and the party under Jeremy Corbyn has always been far more adroit at campaigning than Governing. Tory Brexiteers will be watching the DUP to see what its take is. They will be torn, knowing that if this deal is not agreed by the Commons by March 29 than the chances of Brexit happening as they want will be extremely slim.

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A vote against the deal tonight will almost certainly be followed by a vote on Wednesday to rule out No Deal.

EU and UK flags together

What will follow will almost certainly be a change in Government. Already scores of moderate Tories are considering working with opposition parties to implement a softer Brexit, one with far more regulatory alignment. If you think the current situation is a mess than, frankly, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

While I am pretty sure nobody held a gun to Mrs May’s head and forced her to seek the leadership of the Tory Party she has endured as torrid a time in Downing Street as any Prime Minister has in generations.

Much of this was self-inflicted.

Her 2017 general election was a disaster for which her abysmal choices on personnel, policy and personality were responsible.

What will be Parliament's options if Theresa May's brexit deal is voted down?

Instead of listening to the pleas for hundreds of thousands businesses, large and small, to ensure that their ability to engage in frictionless trade with EU member states, she instead decided to play to the gallery of a noisy faction of the Conservative Party and instead propose a complete departure from the Customs Union, as well as the Single Market.

And let us not forget she both appointed and continues to have confidence in Chris Grayling, without doubt the least competent Cabinet minister in modern political history.

But nonetheless every time I see her face in the newspaper I feel huge sympathy for her.

Let us be clear, she was handed an impossible task from the start.

She was tasked with delivering the will of the British public, as mandated in the 2016 referendum on our continued membership of the EU.

However this mandate did not specify what leaving meant, entailing that she herself had to define something that hardly anyone agreed upon.

She had to do so in a manner which would be acceptable to the remainder of the European Union member states, would win favour with her own party, would be able to muster the backing of the House of Commons and would allow for the UK to continue as a major economic force.

As ever in life, trying to please everybody means you end up pleasing nobody.

The deal she has come up with is, I will happily admit, far better than I expected any Prime Minister to deliver. However I think the amount of people you could find in the UK who consider it to be a better arrangement than that covered by our current membership of the EU would probably fit inside a modestly sized pub.

That deal is set for a day of reckoning in the Commons today. The following day it is likely to mandate against us leaving without a deal.

The clamour for another referendum is likely to be overwhelming. It is not a move I support. The issue was settled nearly three years ago and I fear the turmoil seen during that campaign returning with increased ferocity.

In 11 days, in theory, our membership of the European Union will be in theory at an end. To say time is running out is the understatement of the year.

Despite the tough talking rhetoric, any deal is better than no deal. Such a move would be an unmitigated economic and social catastrophe for our nation not seen in peacetime.

But a deal must be agreed. We are a nation in a state of paralysis. Brexit is the only gig in town. We have got to move on from this, and soon.

Delaying Brexit almost seems certain now but for how long and at what cost?

How many more firms will have had enough of the uncertainty and simply decide to move more operations overseas?

How many bosses will hold back on investment?

And how long can we keep putting off the issues that really matter, like devolution, infrastructure, upgrading our public services and creating an education system that prepares our children for the modern workplace?

The Prime Minister, surrounded by opinions that are only ever critical and never constructive, continues doggedly trying to deliver what the public voted for. Meanwhile the actual governing of the UK has been on pause for three years.

If you don’t feel sorry for her, ask yourself the question; would you swap places with her?