Brexit: Danger has not passed for Theresa May

Laura Kuenssberg
Political editor
@bbclaurakon Twitter

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Image source, AFP

Westminster seems more peaceful tonight.

Maybe I should just stop there. It is Friday night after all, and after the Big Dipper ride of the last few days, maybe for Number 10, and maybe for you, that's enough to be going on with for now.

But Number 10 knows they'd be kidding themselves to imagine that the danger has gone. We simply won't know, probably until Monday, whether there are enough Tory MPs willing to put their names to letters calling for her to go to trigger a vote on confidence in her that might - in theory - force her from office.

It is possible that by the start of next week Theresa May finds herself with a vote that could unseat her.

If she doesn't, or even if she does but then wins such a vote, here's the problem.

More than 20 MPs have put their names out there publicly calling on her to go and screaming protests at her Brexit deal. They might not get their confidence vote. Even if they do, they might not get enough support to oust her.

But it seems impossible for those who have put their names out there to vote for the Brexit deal in a few weeks time.

With the DUP bristling with rage about the deal and how it was arrived at, and very little sign of a cavalry of Labour MPs riding to the rescue, the number of public protests from those Tory MPs makes it seem like Theresa May's agreement is doomed.

In that regard, how on earth does the government plan to get it through? Can they?

There are two factors that Number 10 hopes will come through for them. First off, they hope that once the deal is done officially with the EU, next Sunday (25 November), then the dynamic will change.

Something along the lines of the leaked plan to sell the deal that we saw last week can get going, and when it does, expect it to rev up fast and loud.

As we've discussed before plenty of times, the government machine will crank up fast and furiously to get MPs to back the deal - or else.

And they also hope that more Labour MPs than currently expected will back them in the end. That's not just because they could choose a deal rather than open Pandora's box.

But it's also because there's a belief in Number 10 that Labour's fellow politicians on the left around Europe will make it clear that frankly, this deal is the best the UK will get, and that a hypothetical Labour government couldn't and wouldn't do any better.

Is that realistic, when the opposition party have the temptation of doing maximum damage to the government of the day? Let's see.

For some of the government's critics, it's simply deluded to imagine they will be able to turn this debate around.

The draft deal, only 48 hours after it was published, has been roundly attacked. There are many more MPs on the record now than are needed to defeat the agreement in Parliament.

But it is impossible to be in the minds of the MPs contemplating turning in a letter calling for May to quit over the weekend.

And harder still to be in the minds of those who will have an agonising choice if the deal makes it to the Commons in a few weeks time.

It is calmer in Westminster tonight, but it is messy, and the danger hasn't gone away.

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