Boris Johnson said on twitter: “We have a great new deal that puts us in control, now Parliament should finish Brexit on Saturday, so we can focus on other priorities, such as living standards, the National Health Service, violent crime and our environment”.
“Even worse than May’s deal”
Johnson had less success with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose ten votes in the lower house are considered potentially crucial.
By the end, Johnson had tried to pull DUP boss Arlene Foster to his side. He even postponed his departure for Brussels. But the efforts were in vain.
Foster made it clear that she could not support the design. “The way things are”, she wrote in a press release, saying her party could not support the agreement in the lower house.
The wording should open Johnson’s room for renegotiation in Brussels, but the list of DUP lawsuits was long. It covered almost all the issues that had been tackled in recent days, from the customs model for Northern Ireland to the approval mechanism in Belfast to the VAT regime. Johnson preferred what was on the table in Brussels.
Johnson now looks forward to uncertain majority conditions in the lower house. This Saturday, the government wants to put the deal to the vote, and Johnson still has a lot of convincing to do to get the blessing from MPs.
The opposition made it clear early on, and sometimes drastically, that it rejects the new draft treaty. It was “even worse than Theresa May’s deal, which was overwhelmingly rejected”, Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said a few minutes after Downing Street published the draft. The leader of the Liberal Democrat, Jo Swinson, described the deal as an “act of economic vandalism” that would eclipse the effects of the financial crisis ten years ago.
Johnson lacks more than 30 votes
Johnson would miss more than thirty votes, if the refusal of the DUP remains. Above all, the twenty to thirty radical Brexiteers on the right Tory wing are regarded as insecure MPs. Some of them have repeatedly stated that they can only support a deal if it reflects the interests of the DUP.
Following the announcement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that the European Union will not allow another extension, some of them may vote against the deal to fulfill their dream of making a no deal United Kingdom and European Union membership referendum which would be the alternative to the exit agreement. This might also seem seductive to some conservatives because it would neutralize the Brexit Party.
Second Brexit referendum?
Johnson hopes to find support beyond those voices in the Labor Group. 19 Labor MPs recently backed a deal in a letter to the European Commission. Almost all of them are from constituencies with a strong Brexit majority.
So far, the supporters of a referendum lacked the necessary number of votes. After several members of parliament had changed camps in the past few weeks and had warmed up for the idea, most recently a majority for a confirmation referendum seemed possible. However, it seems appropriate that the European Union should not allow an extension of the withdrawal period and officially withdraw the United Kingdom on 31 October.