Brexit: Should Theresa May stick with her plan?

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On the face of it, there is nothing remotely surprising about Theresa May telling her Cabinet colleagues last night that she wants to have another go at trying to sort out the backstop.

The political implication of that is that she still thinks it is better at this stage for her to pursue a strategy that might just about conceivably see, in the end after a lot more wrangling, a version of her deal squeak through the House of Commons with support from her own MPs and having kissed and made up with the DUP.

Right now that seems a long way off of course, and it might prove impossible.

But the view at the top of government is that, on balance, this is the better choice. There are plenty of MPs and some in government on the other side of this argument who think it is not much short of insane to keep going with a strategy that has been so roundly kicked out by the Commons. You hear a lot of quoting of Einstein, who claimed the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (Although as so often there is a row over whether he actually said that at all)

And while it's scoffed at, some people in government believe in the end the EU might budge and that Ireland might be persuaded to look at a separate agreement to sort out the backstop. (Don't all scream at once, I know how far off that looks at the moment).

Remember, Theresa May just isn't the kind of politician who was ever going to tear up her Plan A overnight, however irritating it might be to some of her own ministers like the one who told me last week she would have to budge at "five past seven".

This doesn't of course mean in theory that the cross-party process is over. There are more talks between various MPs and senior ministers today.

But one senior MP involved in the process believes the problem is that by suggesting compromise in the Commons in the wake of defeat last week, then telling ministers Plan B is basically Plan A last night, the PM has "burned up the goodwill".

If she wasn't going to budge, what was the point of implying that she might?

In theory the point was, of course, that it's highly likely she will in the end need to compromise, and that every vote will count.

But one source joked that she won't do it until "she's in a half-Nelson" - the reality is by then, those MPs who were willing to help last week may have concluded, as some already have, that if she won't budge, Parliament will simply grab hold of the process when it comes to the vote next week.

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