The DUP have just delivered a big blow to Number 10’s strategy for winning meaningful vote 3. They have announced that they won’t vote for it because the changes they wanted to the backstop have not been delivered.
Without the DUP, it is very hard – if not impossible – to see how Theresa May can win any meaningful vote.
So, where do the government go from here? Well, I suspect there’ll be a mad dash in the next 24 hours to see what further reassurances can be provided to the DUP on the Union. I wonder if there might be legislation to ensure the Northern Ireland First Minister’s role on the joint committee, for instance.
But there is a fundamental difference between the DUP and the Tory Brexit rebels. Fundamentally, the DUP care more about the Union than Brexit. So the argument that, with an extension, Brexit is only going to get softer, or might not happen at all, worries them less than the risk that the backstop might become permanent.