Imagine for a moment that today’s Cabinet rejects the draft Brexit deal negotiated by Sabine Weyand and Olly Robbins. While there would still be time for an agreement to be reached later, both the UK and the EU would step up No Deal preparations. The timetable gives them no option to do otherwise.
Pressure for a second referendum in the Commons would increase. The Government would be drawn into an accelerating conflict with MPs who support one. Their number would doubtless grow, including on the Conservative benches. It is possible to believe that ways would be found to bring Commons business to a standstill, thus piling pressure on Theresa May for a second vote. Hardline Remain-backing Conservative MPs might write en masse to Graham Brady demanding a confidence ballot on her leadership.
None the less, Jeremy Corbyn is clearly opposed to second vote, and the group of Tory MPs backing a second referendum remains small. In short, the best betting is that, in these circumstances, the balance of probabilities is that the Government could make it through and deliver No Deal, for better or worse.
Readers will see where all this is heading. The possibility of its collapse soon, in the unlikely event of the draft deal being rejected by Cabinet today, must be set against the probability of its collapse even sooner if Cabinet accepts the deal instead. The DUP hates the idea of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street as Prime Minister. But if the alternative is to swallow the partition of the UK, as it sees it, under this Government then it is likely to exit its confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives, formally or informally.
ConservativeHome understands that this point will be made to the Prime Minister this afternoon. The question at stake is not only whether the proposed deal is good for Britain and honours the referendum result. It is also whether or not her Government survives with its majority intact.