By accident or by design, Jeremy Corbyn was the politician that the key European Union figures in Brussels wanted to talk about on the day the actual prime minister turned up to try to salvage her withdrawal deal.
Turning up in Brussels to try to save a deal with no specific plan, and then being advised by Donald Tusk and others to look at the “promising” plan of the opposition leader, the main feature of which (a permanent customs union) you are on record as calling a “betrayal”, which is also being praised by some of your backbenchers – that probably is a special form of political purgatory.
Make no mistake, there is total fury that the PM backed the Brady amendment and undermined the deal that she told EU summits was the only one that could pass.
She sent a message to her negotiating partners that she will not “own” the domestic side of the negotiation, that the PM is now going for no-deal.
Even more than that, losing by 230 votes, having assured leaders the deal would pass, there is now a lack of trust in her credibility as a partner, her capacity to deliver the Commons.
The watchword now is “stable majority”. Mrs May acknowledged this concern in a TV clip in Brussels with reference to the phrase – code in Brussels for a proper cross-party deal that can unlock EU concessions.
But the belief on the EU side is that today’s Corbyn letter to the PM is a “game changer” and was mentioned to Mrs May directly by Mr Tusk and the European parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.
Mr Tusk told Mrs May that the Corbyn plan (remaining in a customs union) would be a “promising” way out of the current impasse. Read more