Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: Theresa May's been battered but still has fighting chance with Brexit deal

By Suzanne Breen

It was far from an ideal opening round for Theresa May as she took to her feet to deliver the most important speech of her political career.

"It's worth taking a moment to reflect on how we got here," she said to loud guffaws of laughter in the House of Commons.

No wonder some found it funny. Three parliamentary defeats in a single sitting was the disastrous lead-up to the Prime Minister's big Brexit debate. You have to go back 40 years to find any government suffering such a triple loss.

And let's not forget her disastrous decision to call last year's June election which set in motion this calamitous chain of events.

Mrs May has taken authoring your own misfortune to new heights.

But yet a little like Tyson Fury in LA last weekend, she somehow manages to get back up again just when you think it's all over.

While it wasn't a show-stopping performance yesterday, May's pitch to both Remainers and Brexiteers to rally behind her agreement as the least worst option sounded credible.

The hard truth, she told both sides, was that neither could deliver a win. The argument had gone on too long.

"I have spent nearly two years negotiating this deal. I have lost valued colleagues along the way. And faced fierce criticism from all sides," she said.

"If I had banged the table, walked out of the room and at the end of the process delivered the very same deal that is before us today, some might say I had done a better job.

"But I didn't play to the gallery, I focused on getting a deal that honours the referendum and sets us on course for a bright future."

It's really hard to see where the bright future is in the deal she's outlining. But neither Jeremy Corbyn nor Boris Johnson in their subsequent speeches produced any realistic alternative.

With the big guns having fired yesterday, the next four days of Parliament's Brexit debate may be duller. The publication of the government's legal advice on the deal will be embarrassing on some counts, but on others it could possibly dispel myths currently aiding the opposition

It's impossible to see victory for the Prime Minister in next Tuesday's vote. But she will hope she's done enough to stagger on and return to Brussels for just enough concessions to take her over the line in a rematch.

Belfast Telegraph

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