There were no obvious signs of wassailing or champagne corks being popped after the other EU Member States accepted Theresa May’s much-mauled Brexit plan at the weekend.
But it might have been a different story behind the scenes at the EU headquarters in Brussels, if the Prime Minister’s vociferous critics are right in saying that the deal meant the EU had got the UK just where it wanted - under its thumb.
The critical moment for the Prime Minister, however, still has to be reached: The crucial vote on her plans in the Commons, probably early in December.
Pretty well every non-Conservative MP has served notice that they will vote against it, plus a not insubstantial number of Tory MPs themselves. On the face of it, the deal - described by the Germans as “a diplomatic work of art” - looks doomed, but miracles do happen in politics, and Mrs May could be triumphant. If the House of Commons deny her that, then the future certainly looks foggy. EU bosses have warned, grimly, that if this plan is rejected, the UK can expect nothing better. The received opinion is that this is not just an idle threat but one which Britain should take seriously. The EU does not joke about such things.
So is Theresa May teetering on the cliff-edge of resignation?
What is certainly true is that a defeat at Westminster could damage her authority beyond repair.
But you have to hand it to her for standing up so manfully to the incessant and sometimes vicious barrage of criticism which she has faced from within Parliament and beyond over the last few weeks.
- Margaret Thatcher’s old Oxford college, Somerville, has voted against flying the Union Flag on the Queen’s Birthday because it is a symbol of colonialism, it is said.
There may have been serious mistakes along the way, but “colonialism” actually put many so-called third-world countries on their feet and set them on the road to prosperity.
To present the old British Empire as some kind of ogre is just plain stupid and betrays a wilful ignorance of history.