"I think to properly understand the situation you have to take a step back and try and remove the party prejudices.
Both major political parties have struggled with Europe ever since we joined. The Tories have been openly divided but labour generally has kept its divisions internal especially whilst the major European thrust was left of centre and labour oriented.
Cameron sensed some disquiet and toured Europe looking for reforms. They weren't minded to listen and with the benefit of hindsight I think that was the moment that solidified anti-European sentiment and made leave inevitable.
Cameron took a gamble on offering a vote expecting to be in coalition with the liberals and for them to veto it. Unexpectedly he won a majority and had to honour the election manifesto. He lost against all predictions and the government and opposition were totally unprepared. It didn't matter that the opposition were unprepared because they weren't in power.
When May became PM the various positions were irreconcilable. Labour wanted to stay in the single market and customs union, libs wanted to stay in Europe, Mrs May at that point became the only driving force to leave. The country was divided and an approach was devised that was half-in half-out in order to get to the next stage of defining the future trading relationship. There was never a chance that a cross-party approach could be devised as the views were so disparate and entrenched, just as they are now with no party wanting to compromise.
Negotiations commenced to see how far the EU would give ground until they said no further. Whether you admire Mrs May or not it is a matter of public record that they often took positions that were unmoveable and then were compelled to move, especially on fishing and security. The British Government team has not given way on any of the red lines much to the EU's annoyance.
Throughout the process the role of all the opposition parties has been to openly hinder and weaken the Government's negotiating position.
It was a mistake to label this as Mrs May's deal. It was done at a time that she was personally seen to be a popular asset, much more so than the party as a whole and that has proven to be a problem. Last night's address was in response to some very strong polling that she remains popular with the public whilst her party and all others have plummeted in public esteem. MP's of all colours and the press really don't like any of this and become louder and more vitriolic as the vice that she has designed tightens around them. It's a huge gamble that she is making but it might pay off. It's predicated on a number of things:
1. This is not really her deal it is the deal offered by the EU on the best terms they can muster. They won't go any further not because they can't economically but because they can't politically especially coming up to the elections. Any MP who thinks negotiations can be reopened prior to the electoral cycle being completed is just fooling themselves. This really is the only deal on the table.
2. There isn't a majority for anything either in the HOC or in the country and there won't be any time soon.
3. The real negotiations on trade can't start until there's a deal and that's where the big prize lies not in the withdrawal deal.
4. Mrs May is being portrayed as a zombie PM at the mo. The options open to her are leave under a cloud or try for glory and have at least a chance of being remembered as the PM who against incredible odds took us on the first steps out of Europe. She's nothing to lose by battling on and everything to gain.
I don't believe Mrs May is the sole architect of this situation. The EU determined the bullying process of agreeing the withdrawal agreement first which has proven to be tortuous and the opposition parties have worked day and night to scupper every step forward and tie one hand behind the Government's back.
It's time to agree the deal, get out and move on.