HE’S DONE HIS DUTY. NOW MPs MUST DO THEIRS
Against all odds, Boris has won a new Brexit deal — yet tomorrow our reckless political class may derail it. So today the Mail says...
BORIS Johnson last night urged MPs to ‘come together’ and get Brexit done after securing an extraordinary last-minute deal.
In a remarkable turnaround, the Prime Minister agreed a deal with the EU which scraps the hated Irish backstop and leaves the UK free to strike trade deals around the world. Tomorrow he will put the deal to MPs on a historic Saturday sitting of Parliament as he continues a frantic dash to keep his pledge to take Britain out of the European Union by October 31.
In Brussels last night, Mr Johnson delivered an emphatic message to MPs, saying: ‘It hasn’t always been an easy experience for the UK.
‘It has been long, it has been painful, it has been
divisive, and now is the moment for us as a country to come together.
‘Now this is the moment for our parliamentarians to come together and get this thing done.’
The deal came at a price, with Mr Johnson’s DUP allies refusing to back it and accusing the PM of ‘driving a coach and horses’ through the Good Friday Agreement. The loss of ten DUP MPs leaves him with an uphill struggle to win tomorrow’s vote.
Allies of Mr Johnson believe his strenuous efforts will play well with an electorate desperate to get the tortuous Brexit process over, even if his deal is defeated by MPs.
They are gearing up for an election within weeks in which Mr Johnson will urge the public to give him a majority to finally deliver Brexit.
But David Cameron’s former spin chief, Sir Craig Oliver, warned the strategy was high-risk, saying: ‘I suspect Boris Johnson and his team think they have the numbers to pass the deal without the DUP – but even if they don’t, they get to run a populist election campaign, which should be enough. But it’s so volatile a change of just a few points could be disastrous.’
Last night, a concerted effort was under way to woo Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas to back the deal in return for guarantees on workers’ rights and environmental standards. Allies of the PM believe he needs to win the support of 15 Labour MPs.
European Commission president Jean- Claude Juncker also turned up the pressure on MPs, saying ‘there will be no prolongation’, after holding talks with Mr Johnson. The breakthrough came as: Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for urging Labour MPs to reject the deal before he had had enough time to read it thoroughly;
Business leaders urged Parliament to back the deal, with the Institute of Directors warning MPs to avoid the ‘damage a disorderly exit could cause’;
Remainer plans to force through a second referendum tomorrow collapsed into chaos and infighting;
European Parliament chief David Sassoli said he was ‘ confident’ MEPs would approve the plan;
It emerged that the final sticking point was Mr Johnson’s insistence that Britain secure the right to scrap the hated ‘ tampon tax’ throughout the UK;
Nigel Farage faced ridicule after suggesting it would be better to delay Brexit than back Mr Johnson’s deal.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had confounded his critics who said he was interested only in No Deal. A senior source said: ‘We were told that the EU would never reopen the withdrawal agreement. We were told it was impossible to replace the backstop. We were told Northern Ireland could not leave the customs union. The PM has achieved all of those things and more.
‘ This gets Great Britain totally out, with special arrangements for Northern Ireland covered by democratic consent. We are taking back control.’
The new deal strips out the controversial Irish backstop and replaces it with a complex deal for Northern Ireland designed to prevent a hard border. Under the terms of the agreement, the province will remain aligned with single market rules for all goods and will have to levy the same rate of VAT as the Irish Republic. It will also have to accept customs checks on goods arriving from the rest of the UK – effectively a customs border in the Irish Sea, which Mr Johnson once vowed to oppose.
But, crucially, the EU also agreed to a form of democratic consent, which will give Northern Ireland the opportunity to leave the arrangement every four years if a majority in the devolved Stormont Parliament vote for it. Mr Johnson said it was ‘an excellent deal for Northern Ireland’.
The Prime Minister said he was ‘very confident’ of getting the deal through. But privately, aides admit they face a fierce battle.
One senior source said: ‘MPs should get Brexit done, but they are too mad – they’re bound to vote it down.’
Failure to win the vote would leave the PM on collision course with Parliament and the courts over the controversial law that will force him to seek an extension if he has not got a deal by tomorrow night.
But last night there were signs that the 28 Eurosceptic ‘Spartan’ MPs – who voted down Theresa May’s deal three times – were warming to the agreement. Andrew Bridgen, of the European Research Group, said he was willing to back the deal.
Sir Nicholas Soames, one of the 21 Tories expelled last month, said he would back the deal, and predicted most of the group would do the same.
Rotherham MP Kevin Barron last night became the first Labour MP to publicly back the deal.
Your country needs you: Boris Johnson in Brussels yesterday