As a consequence, the prime minister faces what is unquestionably a difficult set of circumstances, and matters will doubtless come to a head on the 11th, only a week or so before members of the Westminster Parliament plan to disperse for the Christmas holidays. At that point, there will be just three months remaining until the current deadline for Britain’s departure from the EU under the terms of Article 50, the section of a European treaty that dictates the legal process underpinning this unprecedented divorce.
After May’s misadvised decision last year to call a General Election, which robbed her Conservative Party of the legislative seats necessary to push through new laws under its own steam, her governing majority in Parliament’s lower chamber had already grown razor thin. But in recent weeks the public opposition to the prime minister’s proposed version of Brexit has further weakened her hold on the Commons, as the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party that helped prop up her government since that 2017 election has refused to back some of the government’s latest finance measures.
And when it comes to the parliamentary arithmetic around the December 11 vote, May will not only have to countenance abstentions from those same DUP lawmakers. She will likely also face dozens of oppositional votes from members of her own party. If she is to reach the required majority to pass her plan, she will need to win over at least as many parliamentary members from opposition parties like Labour and the Liberal Democrats. For that to happen, May has clearly tried to frame the options in front of lawmakers in as narrow a manner as possible; it is, she has been at pains to repeat, “my deal or no deal,” with the third option being no Brexit at all — one that she has categorically ruled out as being fundamentally undemocratic.