As Britain moved a step closer to our exit, the Prime Minister insisted it was “time to move on” and her deal was “the only possible deal” that could be secured.
At a press conference this lunchtime after meetings with other leaders she said in a direct pitch to her wavering MPs: “The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit.
“This will allow us to come together again as a country.”
After 18 months of political wrangling, heads of government were finally ready to sign and seal the deal today.
And Mrs May insisted that it was the only one available – as she geared up for the fight of her career to get it passed by MPs in the Commons.
100 Tory MPs alone are set to vote against it when it comes to the Commons, and DUP ally Arlene Foster threatened to bring down the government altogether by pulling the plug on their support.
Mrs May also dodged again questions on whether she would quit if her deal is rejected in the Commons, and slapped down more calls for a second referendum.
“I am focusing on ensuring that I make a case for this deal to MPs,” she added, saying she was “full of optimism about the future of our country.”
EU boss Jean Claude Juncker forcefully warned MPs that there was no other option up for grabs in a press conference just minutes before Mrs May.
He said: “This is the best deal we could have achieved.”
He went on: “Those who think by rejecting the deal they would have a better deal will be disappointed.”
And his EU colleague Michel Barnier told MPs it was time for “everybody to take their responsibilities” as leaders joined a charm offensive to try and help Mrs May seal it all off.
The Frenchman insisted to reporters that “we will remain allies, partners and friends” after spending months getting the 600-page deal ready.
But Mr Macron vowed to fight for access to Britain’s waters in a future trade deal.
He said the issue would be a “key point of future negotiations” and insisted the French would “defend access as part of the indispensable balance”.
Mrs May will now embark on a PR blitz this week to sell her deal to the nation.
In a letter to Brits today Mrs May said she would campaign with “heart and soul” to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
She wrote: “It will be a deal that is in our national interest one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted Leave or Remain.”
She has copied Tony Blair’s election-winning pledge cards as she goes flat out to sell her EU divorce plan – dubbed a “sell-out” by critics – to Britain.
But Brexiteers have warned her they will still vote it down when it comes to the Commons.
Iain Duncan Smith said this morning that “far too much has been given to the EU”.
“Right now the balance is definitely tilted against this being a deal, I’m afraid, that delivers on what the Government said they would deliver,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
What happens next?
THIS WEEK: Theresa May embarks on a PR blitz to sell her deal
NEXT MONTH: MPs vote on the deal in the House of Commons. If it’s voted down ministers have 21 days to issue a statement and come up with a plan B.
FEBRUARY: European Parliament likely to vote on the agreement
MARCH 2019: Britain officially leaves the EU at 11pm and enters transition period
JANUARY 2021: Transition period ends and Britain hopes to have trade deal with the EU in place to take over
Meanwhile, one EU leader warned that another Brexit vote or even another election could be on the cards if MPs throw out Theresa May’s deal.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said another vote, an election or more negotiations were possible if MPs torpedo it in the Commons.
She said this morning: “We are going to agree on the withdrawal agreement. And then of course it will be for Britain to decide what to do next…
“It could be a second vote of the people, it could be new elections, it could be a request for renegotiations, there is at least four scenarios, I calculate.”
But Dutch PM Mark Rutte said he was “absolutely confident” that Theresa May’s deal would be able to pass.
He said the deal was the “max we can all do” and didn’t think there was any hope of reopening talks if the agreement failed to be signed off by MPs.