Brexit deal: What to expect over the next 24 hours

Theresa May

Theresa May leaves Downing Street. Image: Getty

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The next 24 hours could determine the political fate of both the Brexit process and Theresa May. 

Her Cabinet will meet at 2pm today to review the 600 page draft deal. 

In the immediate term everything rests on whether or not her Cabinet will remain on side and back the document.



I understand the vast majority will, and the potential for nuclear resignations, for example, by Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, are being played down by sources. 

I hear that no Cabinet minister really got close to resigning last night. 

Andrea Leadsom, for example, resolved to further consult with colleagues today. 


Will there be resignations?

Philip Hammond arrives at Downing Street as cabinet ministers read the draft Brexit documents. Image: Getty

But the possibility remains - if there were to be a walkout, who would go, why and what would happen? 

The tension that could precipitate resignations is caused by the degree to which it is possible Theresa May may struggle to get the deal through the House of Commons. 

If the Cabinet back her, and she gets the deal past EU27 leaders this month, a vote looks likely in December. 

The DUP have already said they will vote against.

 Likewise it is said Tory Brexit-backing European Research Group MPs - with varying degrees of reliability - plan to frustrate her in the House. 



Could Brexit-backing Cabinet ministers really back a deal that will not get through Parliament? 

To do so would potentially be a huge political error for them. 

I understand it is unlikely Michael Gove would resign unilaterally. 

Dominic Raab is said to still be concerned about the backstop mechanism - it’s extremely unlikely the government could withstand the resignation of a second Brexit Secretary within a year.

Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt are all on side according to overnight reports. 

Penny Mourdant and Esther McVey are said to remain sceptical. 

It is unlikely their resignations alone would precipitate the collapse of the deal - or the government. 


Leadership contest 

Theresa May at the Lord Mayor's annual banquet . Image: Getty

Then there is the question of a possible Tory leadership contest. 

How many letters are in Sir Graham Brady’s safe, and could the next day trigger more? 

That’s ‘entirely possible’ according to one Tory Eurosceptic. 

And Jacob Rees-Mogg has finally suggested he might pen his own letter, but ‘not in the next 24 hours’. 

The situation remains febrile for No 10. 


Passing the deal through the Commons

Pro-EU protesters demonstrate against Brexit outside Parliament. Image: Getty

Even if there aren’t resignations, so much rests on passing the deal through the Commons that the next few weeks are likely to be extremely testy. 

All sides will seek reassurances even as an avalanche of government PR and spin hits allcomers. 



Calls for a second referendum are likely to become more shrill, and (even without seeing it) Labour says the deal is unlikely to be acceptable - signalling more Parliamentary difficulty ahead. 

Some government sources are relatively sanguine - others extremely concerned. 

This is the most politically volatile period for Brexit since the end of the referendum campaign. 

Who will emerge with the upper hand?