Theresa May’s Merry Christmas

I’m old enough to remember when the most substantial event in British politics involved a leader of the Labour Party struggling to feign humanity while eating a bacon sandwich.

Ed Miliband, a hapless Labour leader before hapless Labour leaders became a thing, tried to burgeon his working-class credentials by performing this simplest of tasks.

Again, all he had to do was look normal eating a sandwich. He failed. Many commentators will claim that Weird Ed lost the winnable 2015 election because of his Marxist leanings. Don’t listen to them. It was his disfiguring of that sandwich that killed him.

“I just can’t vote for him,” said many a pub regular. “Odd bloke,” was the consensus.

In fairness to Miliband, uncool brother of David, 2015 was the last year when things were identifiably ordinary. That sandwich headlined for the better part of a week. Now, it wouldn’t extend past Monday lunchtime. Too much goes on. And on . . . and on.

I may have mentioned a few times that Prime Minister Theresa May was on the brink of political death. That her deal to leave the European Union was dead on arrival. That, surely, this time, she was brown bread.

Well, it looks like Santa has delivered a Christmas miracle. Hell, she even convinced a member of the public to take a selfie with her. You’d think it was the other way around, but I doubt it.

Anyway, May’s team are now said to be confident of forcing her much-detested withdrawal agreement through Parliament when lawmakers return in January. They think they can win.

Like I said here, the hated backstop which would tie Britain to EU rules and regulations indefinitely is the sticking point, and the reason May’s deal had little to no chance of passing through Parliament.

After surviving an attempt on her political life, May and her team ramped up preparations to leave the EU without any deal. They call this “managed no-deal.” Those in opposition call it “insane.” My pub friends call it “Brexit.”

A major issue was that strident Euroskeptic Jacob Rees-Mogg was not on board, and neither were his 80-plus lawmakers in the European Research Group. Add those to May’s Democratic Unionist Party allies, whom she depends upon for her majority. It looked dead.

But a miracle is perhaps underway. (And, dear reader, I promise to never write anything regarding the longevity of Theresa May ever again. I hope you didn’t place any significant wagers.)

May’s supporters in her cabinet are now buzzing at what they believe is a substantial shift in parliamentary psyche. Her chief negotiator, Ollie Robbins, has been prodding EU bosses in secret talks this week.

Despite denying all knowledge, EU bosses are warming to a meaningful concession on the Irish Backstop, according to The Times.

May has also invited all Conservative lawmakers, and their partners, to a New Year’s gathering at Number 10 Downing Street. This is after surviving a no-confidence vote in which 117 lawmakers called for her head. The other 200 backed her, but only after she promised to stand down.

Government sources told The Sun that May and her cabinet are “confident” of getting her deal through an early January vote. They might lose the first, but the thinking goes that May’s deal would pass a second vote after no viable alternative appears.

This is quite remarkable, given more than 100 lawmakers were determined to kill the deal just before the Christmas recess. But sources have told The Sun that many are softening—including Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Perhaps reality is dawning. Despite all of its flaws, May’s deal is a stepping stone to leaving the EU without a messy economic shock handing succor to those Remainers determined to overturn the vote.

But this all hinges on the backstop. A recent acceleration of no-deal preparations has spooked the EU. If May can get some concessions from Brussels, that should be enough to convince Brexiteer lawmakers that May’s deal is a work in progress, and not Remain in all but name.

For that to happen, she’ll need the support of her Democratic Unionist Party allies to back her deal. Right now, they’re not playing ball through fear that the “temporary” Irish Backstop would end up a permanent shackle.

The sideliners want a legal codicil from the EU stating that the backstop would be a temporary and undesirable last resort. That should be enough for most to fall in line. And for Great Britain to leave the European Union on March 29.

So Remainer fantasies of overturning the vote have all but dissolved. For now.

And this was all but confirmed when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said last week that Brexit would still go ahead, even if Remainers got their general election and he became prime minister. Predictably, the compassionistas want his head.

He might be hapless. And the vegetarian Corbyn would never attempt a bacon sandwich. But at least he’s a Brexiteer, even though he won’t admit it.

Photo Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

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