Triumph at last for Theresa May

The PM is heading back to Brussels with a majority and a plan. But what then? Matthew Partridge reports.


Corbyn needs to decide what he stands for
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Theresa May enjoyed the best night of her premiership so far in Tuesday's vote on her withdrawal agreement, says Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail. Not only did she "save the Conservative Party from splitting" by winning the support of Brexiteers for her plan to return to Brussels to renegotiate aspects of the deal, but she also "headed off the concerted attempt by Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles to seize back control" of the Brexit process for parliament.

Granted, this came at the cost of a "pretty dramatic U-turn" May was forced to ditch "a deal which she personally agreed to barely eight weeks ago" and accept renegotiations she had said were impossible. Still, the fact remains that "there will be celebration in Downing Street". May "looks more secure than she has done for a while".

Perhaps, but it was a bad night forthose hoping for a soft Brexit, saysRobert Shrimsley in the Financial Times."MPs simultaneously voted to declaretheir opposition to a no-deal Brexit while denying themselves the tools to prevent it. They then backed the prime minister's agreement as long as she wins, within eight weeks, changes that she has spent two years and three Brexit secretaries failing to secure."

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Still, May now has a breathing space and can go back to the EU with a majority. Brussels will surely give May something to throw at her hardliners. Whether that will be enough for them remains to be seen. MPs vote again in two weeks' time. And time is running out.

Will Brussels budge?

We are "far from the end of this saga" and "nobody is going to emerge unscathed".If the prime minister has a more detailed plan "that could feasibly satisfy" Brussels, and mollify all 27 EU countries that would wield a veto over it, "she has kept it to herself", says Bloomberg. As it is, her demands are "absurd" and we can expect little more in the two weeks before thenext vote than "theatrical dithering".

This would be "comical" if it weren't that the threat of a no-deal exit has "already cut 2.3% from UK output" and is reducing public revenue by some £320m a week; "many businesses have fled, and others are issuing dire warnings".

What should Labour do?

And the only deal that can pass parliament given that what is acceptable to a majority of Tories is unlikely to be acceptable to Brussels, and that MPs refuse to countenance delaying Brexit "will have to be one that is acceptable to the Labour leadership and a majority of its MPs".

More likely is that what will be left is May's deal or no deal at all, says Alex Massie in The Spectator. Oppositionists say this is a false choice. But it is increasingly looking like the only choice available.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri