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Confidence in Theresa May ebbing away after deferred Brexit deal vote

Theresa May met with Angela Merkel on Tuesday. Credit: PA

There is a subdued, surreal atmosphere in Westminster - a feeling that lots of people have turned up to a party that's been cancelled at the last minute.

Confused tourists stare at angry protesters shouting at angry and confused MPs, who are all dressed up with nowhere to go.

The only debate here on Tuesday is why there is no debate, and when the next debate will be.

The prime minister, having denied Parliament its big Brexit vote, has left the country to save her deal and with it, a very bitter taste in the mouths of her own MPs.

"I sense a mood shift here," former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told ITV News.

"I detect that in the last 24 hours people have decided this isn't going to work out at all...and people who wouldn't have put letters [of no confidence] in are openly saying 'my letter is going in', which doesn't bode well for Theresa May or the government."

The vote on Mrs May's Brexit deal has been deferred. Credit: AP

One of those MPs is Crispin Blunt.

A former minister angered by the prime minister's last-minute u-turn has written to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, calling for her to go with a rally cry to Conservative colleagues to do the same, and quickly.

The Brexit-supporting ERG wing of the Tory party is increasingly confident it's edging towards the magic 48, the number of letters needed to trigger a confidence vote in Theresa May.

Yes, yes we've heard that before, and a truck load of salt is on standby, but the mood against Mrs May is undoubtedly hardening.

The prime minister deferred the vote in the House of Commons on Monday. Credit: PA

Even those who had planned to back her Withdrawal Agreement are beginning to explore other options, Nicky Morgan telling the Commons it may be time for a "government of national unity".

It's impossible to see how this divisive prime minister could lead such a thing.

There is a general feeling here, among both Remainers and Leavers in the Conservative Party and beyond, that the prime minister is on a hiding to nothing heading to the continent for meetings with EU leaders - that there is nothing she can bring back that can possibly win over enough MPs to get her deal through Parliament.

Even a Labour minister told me this morning they felt sorry for those members of the Cabinet sent out on Monday to insist the vote was going definitely going ahead, only for it to be pulled hours later.

Trust in Theresa May is ebbing away, and you won't find many here in Westminster who believe she can turn the tide.