Opposition to the process of a negotiated withdrawal from the EU has been varied, but in simple terms there have been four main tendencies in Parliament. The first three are quite easy to identify: the no-dealers, the no-Brexiters and the DUP.
The fourth isn’t quite as obvious, but it is essentially a less intelligible, and certainly less principled, tribal tendency.
Both the main parties have an eye on future electability, while being aware of an awkward disconnect between their base and many of their MPs. The Labour Party for example is grounded in a Remain-leaning membership, but dependent on less woke folks in the working class constituencies they will have to win to return to power. Hence their pie-in-the-sky, supposedly ‘jobs friendly’, non-policy after the referendum.
Meanwhile, on the government benches, fundamental disagreement over the European project has long been a critical weakness, threatening to sunder the Tory Party, which is ironically why Cameron originally came up with the cunning plan of promising a referendum he didn’t think he’d actually need to hold.
In such circumstances one could say that neither party can respond to the Brexit referendum result coherently without compromising internal unity and/or their next manifesto.
The big mistake of the no-dealers in all this has been to imagine that their best interests were being served by tagging along with the other recusants, including the DUP, who care a lot about one issue, but not so much about Brexit at all. Rees Mogg and co have perhaps stumbled on their ‘half a loaf better than no bread at all’ analogy a little too late.
The no-Brexiters on the other hand, appear to have been tactically-astute thus far, though they were handed a critical lifeline by May’s own mega-gaffe - calling an election and losing her majority - since which EU negotiators been able to exploit her single-issue, DUP weakness pretty effectively.
To have ‘her’ deal pass now, she will need to get both the no-dealers and DUP to capitulate fairly comprehensively in the next few days. She also needs to induce a sense of weariness in a significant number of opposition MPs.
The no-dealers are almost certainly the only grouping in Parliament who care enough about Brexit to cave under this pressure. If the deal, and its backstop, remain un-altered, the DUP are likely to remain non-compliant.
Still, a more general sense of exhaustion could yet get the PM over the line.