Theresa May's eleven-hour trip to Strasbourg on Monday night was the culmination of a week of political Brinkmans, with their Brexit deal and possibly their term in office.
The flight of the British Prime Minister to a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, came after brutal negotiations in Brussels, which saw hopes of an upswing, a fading and then a return of the agreement.
"It was a difficult week," a Downing Street employee admitted Monday morning as the talks faltered.
However, as Ms. May had to deal with a defeat of the Commons defeat against her deal and all escape routes were apparently closed, she decided to bring the members a last step on Tuesday.
After further positive talks with Mr. Juncker on Monday evening, Ms. May set off for Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey, where she read from Corinthians 12: 14-26, a passage that almost read as a cry for help from Brussels.
The Prime Minister of a country leaving the European club said: "The body is not one member, but many. When a member suffers, everyone suffers with him. When a member is honored, everyone is happy with it. "
Shortly after leaving the abbey, she was on her way to Strasbourg.
On Monday evening, a government statement on Brexit was also to be made, which led many MPs to conclude that a deal had already been canceled with Brussels.
The package under discussion would include a legally binding commitment that neither of the two sides maintain indefinitely the backing, the controversial measure of the withdrawal agreement, which aims to avoid a hard border with Ireland through a "temporary" customs union. Ms. May also planned to include a unilateral statement stating why Britain considers the attack to be temporary.
Every last minute deal is at odds with last week's low point when UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox came to Brussels with a series of demands that were considered unacceptable by Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator. The talks then collapsed.
Mr Cox, whose declaratory courtroom was not easy to find in technocratic Brussels, had called on Britain to ambush a one-sided exit mechanism.
The Attorney General, formerly a high-paid business lawyer, was told by Mr. Barnier that he did not understand this: it was all about preventing such a break and causing friction at the border.
Brexit boss Brexit's Olly Robbins stayed in Brussels to pick up the pieces. In the following days, he and Sabine Weyand, Mr Barnier's deputies, worked on a legal form of words that could satisfy Cox's and Tory Euroceptceptic's deputies.
On Saturday night, Mr. Robbins told Downing Street that a draft agreement was in place that would give Britain the assurance that the backstop could not become permanent. Ms May approved the conclusion of the negotiations.
Angela Merkel confirmed on Monday that a new offer was brought to the table. "And now of course it is up to Britain to respond to this offer," said the German Chancellor to reporters in Berlin.
When Ms. May presented the draft agreement on Sunday to Mr. Cox and other senior cabinet ministers – including chief whip Julian Smith – he was blocked. The PM was told that it would not be enough to win the more than 100 Tory eurosceptics whose support Ms May needs.
In order for her to be successful in Tuesday's vote, Mr Cox would have to change his previous legal advice to MEPs that the restraint attack could jail Britain in the Customs Union. Mr Cox told Mrs May that the draft agreed in Brussels would not allow him to change his mind.
Mr. Cox said on Sunday, "My professional reputation is more important to me than my reputation as a politician."
A desperate woman, May, who had planned to travel to Brussels on Sunday to sign the agreement with Mr Juncker, called the head of the European Commission late in the evening and said the deal was over.
"We covered as much as possible with additional assurances," said an EU diplomat. "Despite these positive efforts, the political situation in London during the weekend was such that Ms. May could not persuade her government to move forward." The culprit clearly opposed Mr. Cox.
After the deadlock, Mr Barnier briefed the EU27 ambassadors in Brussels on Monday. He described the increasingly "confrontational" mood with the British and warned that a vote of the lower house was doomed to failure.
The Commission began to extend its no-deal planning with a short extension of the Article 50 exit process to 24 May.
Mrs. May slept in her dilemma and awoke on Monday to conclude that she was trapped and had no choice but to push her further.
The alternative – a political maneuver in which she offered the MEPs a vote on the deal she wanted to secure in Brussels and not the deal that was on the table – was strongly rejected in Brussels and by Tory Eurosceptics.
The Attorney General will offer updated legal advice to MEPs on Tuesday. If Mrs. May can convince Mr. Cox of the merits of a short-term deal with Mr. Juncker, she hopes that the Democratic Union Party of Northern Ireland and many Tory MPs would be behind it.
Even the most optimistic advocates of Ms. May believe that any concessions agreed with the EU could only reduce the extent of their defeat – perhaps to 50.
That could be considered progress, a sign that Ms. May had finally gained some momentum and perhaps – even at this late hour – could enforce her deal or at least lay the groundwork for a third push for meaningful Lower House voting later this month , In Brussels, however, this week's talks were considered "the last shot".