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Why today’s cabinet could be the most important for 50 years

Theresa May is to spend five hours in crisis talks. Credit: Credit: PA

Today’s cabinet meeting could be the most important of Theresa May’s term in office - and possibly of the last 50 odd years.

Because the time to prevaricate on Brexit is almost exhausted - with an emergency EU summit having been convened for Wednesday next week to decide if the UK will leave without a negotiated settlement or whether Brexit day will be delayed again, but this time by many months.

An emergency EU summit has been convened for Wednesday. Credit: Credit: PA

The PM and her ministers have to choose, and probably now, if parliament is to have any say on it and if EU leaders are to be briefed adequately ahead of the council.

Her ministers tell me it is now a stark choice between a so-called confirmatory referendum - or seeing her Brexit deal ratified by MPs subject to further ratification in a people’s vote - or leaving without a deal on 12 April.

Those are the only available choices, they tell me, given that none of them want a general election, and none of them think her deal can ever be approved by MPs in its current form (though she may yet have another go at trying to get it ratified tomorrow or Thursday in Meaningful Vote 4 - though many would see that at as a backdoor route to no-deal, intentional or not).

Whichever route she takes will outrage and alienate a third of her cabinet and a third of her MPs, at a conservative estimate.

If she chooses either no deal or referendum, she chooses resignations either of Brexiter ultras or “soft” Tories, she chooses the future composition and direction of her party (one-nation or UKIPy) and the destiny of the UK.

Not much at stake then.