Reaching a draft agreement with the European Union on the terms of Britain’s departure has been an arduous task for Theresa May, but she had little cause for celebration ahead of what will be a pivotal day for not just her Premiership, but the country’s entire future.
An emergency cabinet meeting is to take place this afternoon after British and EU negotiators agreed a draft text on the Withdrawal Agreement following intensive talks this week running late into the early hours of the morning to resolve the final major outstanding issue of the Irish border’s future.
Mrs May is no fool and knows reaching consensus at a technical level is very different from achieving the same thing politically. As she was meeting senior cabinet ministers in Downing Street last night, leading Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan-Smith were denouncing a plan which will leave the UK continuing to follow many EU rules while having no say on them.
With the DUP, which props up the Government in the Commons, also warning that the deal as reported would leave Northern Ireland “subject to the rules and laws set in Brussels with no democratic input or any say” - and Jeremy Corbyn suggesting Labour may well vote against it as well, Mrs May is facing an uphill struggle to turn the draft agreement into a legal reality.
With just 135 days to go until Britain takes the historic step of leaving the European Union, the time for serious decision-making on the nation’s future has arrived.
As one Brexiteer source put it, cabinet ministers must now “look into their souls” tomorrow and ask themselves if this is really a good deal that delivers on the outcome of the vote in 2016. The stakes could not be higher. Starting today, the next few months are set to shape the future of Britain’s place in the world for generations to come.