WORLD Johnson battles to win over MPs after striking Brexit deal


Johnson battles to win over MPs after striking Brexit deal


15:10, October 18, 2019

A critical 24 hours lies ahead for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who must persuade a majority of MPs to back his Brexit deal in a House of Commons vote on Saturday.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a press conference during the European Union Heads of States and Governments Leaders Summit in Brussels, Belgium on October 17, 2019. (Photo: VCG)

If Johnson fails to sell the agreement he struck with European leaders on Thursday he will be legally compelled to ask the European Council for another Brexit delay, though the prime minister has insisted he will not request an extension.

Johnson had hoped to cast Saturday's vote as a choice between his deal and a no-deal exit from the European Union on October 31, heaping huge pressure on opposition MPs to back him.

However, while Jean-Claude Juncker said there "will be no prolongation," the outgoing European Commission president would have no official role in any decision on a delay. It will be made by the 27 European national leaders, and they have refused to rule out an extension.

Who must Johnson persuade?

Johnson insisted on Thursday he was "very confident" the renegotiated deal will be passed by the House of Commons, but the vote on Saturday is likely to be tight.

The Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party oppose the deal and it has so far failed to receive the backing of the Democratic Unionist's (DUP) 10 MPs. The Northern Irish party fears the revised agreement could lead to the region being treated differently to the rest of the UK.

Around 320 votes will be needed for a majority, and independents, Brexit-friendly opposition MPs and hardline Conservatives are weighing their options. 

Brexit hardliners in Johnson's Conservative Party had previously said their support is contingent on the DUP also voting for the agreement, though some have peeled away from that position.

Conservatives MPs who vote against the government could be threatened with losing the party's whip in parliament, part of a carrot and stick approach that could also see the 21 MPs expelled from the parliamentary party in September offered a way back in exchange for backing the deal.

Johnson will also need to persuade some Labour MPs, and is expected to try to allay concerns about workers' rights to win over opposition lawmakers. 

Deutsche Bank estimated there was a 55 percent chance parliament would reject Johnson's deal, Reuters reported.

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