Boris Johnson is locked in 11th-hour haggling over a Brexit deal, trying to convince MPs to back his plans while negotiators worked late into the night in Brussels.
The prime minister will hope a new legal text for the withdrawal agreement can be hammered down on Wednesday – a day before EU leaders convene in Brussels to sign it off, or else discuss a possible Brexit extension.
While back home, his backbenchers and the government’s Confidence and Supply partners the Democratic Unionist Party will be key to making sure he doesn’t fall at the same hurdle as Theresa May by rejecting the proposal.
Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, withheld her crucial backing despite a second night of long talks with Mr Johnson in Downing Street on Tuesday.
“It would be fair to indicate gaps remain and further work is required,” a party spokesperson said.
While Owen Paterson, a Tory Brexiteer MP and former cabinet minister, told The Sun some of the proposals floated were “absurd”.
But Mr Johnson has been urged on by former Brexit secretary David Davis, who quit in July 2017 over Theresa May’s “Chequer’s proposal” for the future UK-EU relationship.
He asked hardliner colleagues to back Mr Johnson’s plan because “this is the last play”.
“There’s little doubt the deal we’ll come up with this week will not be perfect from the point of view of people like me, or what you call the ‘Spartans’ or whatever,” he said.
“But, nevertheless, we will probably vote for it because it’s as close as we’re going to get to what we promised the electorate.”
The Liberal Democrats are also planning to relaunch their bid for another referendum, by trying to amend the Queen’s Speech being debated this week and next to pave the way for one.
Many in Westminster expect another showdown about whether to put any definitive Brexit outcome back to the public, but the Lib Dem’s amendment will have to be selected by the Commons Speaker and could come closer to the Brexit deadline on 31 October.
Meanwhile in Brussels, the bright lights on the fifth floor of the European Commission offices were seen burning into the early hours of Wednesday, as negotiators try to hammer out a compromise.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, will reportedly announce later whether a deal can be looked at by EU leaders this week, or if they will have to continue into next week.
That would suggest Mr Johnson would have to ask for a Brexit delay, in keeping with a law passed by MPs last month which forces him to to avoid no-deal.
Whatever the state of play of negotiations, Mr Johnson will gather his cabinet tomorrow afternoon to update them on progress.
He will then address all Tory MPs behind closed doors in parliament at around 7:30pm.