A deal has been reached. Jean-Claude Juncker opposes an extension. A constitutional challenge to the deal is underway.
Juncker Does Not Back an Extension
European Commission President and the EU have reached a deal. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker opposes and extension. That is not his call but it is what I expected..
In the video, Juncker says he is happy for a deal but sad to see the UK go.
Boris deal sounds better than the WA. End free movement, end ECJ supremacy over UK law, backstop ditched, & can do free trade agreements. I want to read the detail before making up my mind. But well done Boris for getting this far & doing what others said was impossible— Andrea Jenkyns MP (@andreajenkyns) October 17, 2019
Those who say this is May's deal warmed over are simply wrong.
Constitutional Challenge and Other Details
The Guardian Live Blog discusses a constitutional challenge, DUP opposition, and other details.
Jean-Claude Juncker has tried to help sell the new Brexit deal in the face of opposition from the Democratic Unionist party by pouring doubt on a further Brexit extension in the event of it being rejected.
Juncker said he was “ruling out” a prolongation, although the issue is solely the remit of the heads of state and government. “If we have a deal, we have a deal and there is no need for prolongation,” he added.
Campaigning anti-Brexit QC Jolyon Maugham has now lodged his petition at the court of session in Edinburgh, which essentially tries to ban parliament from debating the new Brexit deal, on the basis that it is illegal, and which he anticipates will be heard tomorrow.
Maugham believes that the deal contravenes s55 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018, which states that it is “unlawful for Her Majesty’s government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain”.
With the detail of Boris Johnson’s new deal still emerging, lawyers insist that s55 is “crystal clear” and that any form of differentiated deal for Northern Ireland will contravene it.
Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, has already cleared time for an emergency hearing in the court of session at noon on Monday 21 October, where he could issue court orders forcing Johnson to send a letter to the EU asking for an extension to article 50 until 31 January as per the Benn Act.
Boost to Johnson
Folks point out that decision on Brexit extension not down to @JunckerEU but a EU council decision. True....but I think he knew exactly what he was saying and its a big help for Team Johnson.— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) October 17, 2019
Johnson Likely Has the Votes
I suspect @BorisJohnson 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.— Craig Oliver (@CraigOliver100) October 17, 2019
Sir Oliver Letwin will back deal
Sir Oliver Letwin, who had the Conservative whip withdrawn over his rebellion on a no-deal Brexit vote, has said he will back the Prime Minister's deal on Saturday, calling it "admirable"
No Deal Says DUP
These arrangements will become the settled position in these areas for Northern Ireland. This drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast agreement.
For all of these reasons it is our view that these arrangements would not be in Northern Ireland’s long-term interests. Saturday’s vote in parliament on the proposals will only be the start of a long process to get any withdrawal agreement bill through the House of Commons.
I think it is unlikely, but how would it turn out?
Eurointellience frames it this way:
for those who are still holding out for a second referendum, and who believe that it could easily be won: the problem with most of the polls is that they confound a person’s position on Brexit - Remain vs Leave - with how they would vote in a second referendum. We know a lot of Remainers who believe that the first referendum results needs to be respected, and who would vote no in a second referendum.
A ComRes poll for Channel 5 news produced a more granular survey, and came up with a 50-42 split in favour Leave under a concrete 2nd referendum setting.
When they asked the question whether the 2016 referendum results should be honoured, the response was 54% in favour, and 32% against. It is one poll only - and the numbers are probably going to swing backwards and forwards. But we should be under no illusion that public opinion on Brexit has shifted since the referendum. We see no signs of that.
All's Well That Ends Well
As the EU summit got underway, Boris Johnson went around the table greeting each leader in turn. He laughed and joked with Merkel and Macron, and hugged Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel, who had made fun of Johnson for not attending a news conference. All's well that ends well? #Brexit— Luke Baker (@BakerLuke) October 17, 2019
Except nothing has ended.
I suspect all the MPs who lost Tory party membership will regain the whip (membership) if they vote for the deal. That makes passage more likely, but not guaranteed.
There are about 22 Labour MPs who want Brexit and that would likely be enough to offset the 9 DUP votes. This is my guess, Eurointelligence thinks passage falls short.
If it does pass, legal challenges loom. And Benn is likely to modify the legislation requiring Johnson to seek an extension if it doesn't pass.
Final Irony Coming Up?
One possibility is that if the legal challenge wins, a hard Brexit might happen, which Johnson could blame on Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Remainers.
Boris Johnson needs to swing about 30 vote for his Brexit deal to pass, and that is my expectation even though some insist it will not pass without DUP.
A Telegraph Number Crunch shows that is not necessarily the case.
My comments in brackets.
Mr Johnson has a deficit of 58 votes to overcome from when Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement was defeated for a third time.
Although the new deal has yet to be properly scrutinised, it is unlikely that he'll lose many of the 286 MPs that voted for a deal in that third meaningful vote. This would leave Mr Johnson with the task of winning a net 30 extra MPs over to his cause.
1: The ERG and the "Spartans" [28 possible]
The European Research Group (ERG) consists of around 80 eurosceptic Conservatives who were vocal in their opposition to Theresa May's deal. Most of them voted against it on the first two occasions but for it on the third.
A smaller subset of this group - 28 "Spartans", including Steve Baker - refused to back Mrs May's deal when their other colleagues caved-in.
While he can't get the 30 extra MPs he needs from this camp, there are clear signs that a large number of them may be open to backing his deal.
2: The expelled Tories [4 possible]
Last month Mr Johnson expelled 21 Conservatives from the party after they opposed the government by voting along with Labour and the other opposition parties to remove a no-deal Brexit option from the table.
Just four of this number actually opposed Mrs May's deal at the third time of asking, with the remaining 17 best classed as anti-no dealers rather than ardent remainers.
This means they should be persuadable when it comes to supporting any deal that Boris Johnson is able to secure - although there are no guarantees yet.
3: Labour rebels [50 possible, 19 likely]
This is the group that will, in all likelihood decide whether or not Boris Johnson passes his Brexit deal. Even with the support of all the expelled Tories and the ERG the numbers might not be there - especially if the DUP aren't on board.
Luckily for Mr Johnson there have been consistent rumblings from the likes of Stephen Kinnock - a Labour MP representing a Leave constituency - that they would support a Conservative Brexit deal.
It didn't happen under Theresa May - when only five Labour MPs rebelled against their party leader - but there is a sense that it could be different this time around.
Earlier this month, 19 Labour MPs signed a letter to the EU asking them to agree a deal with Boris Johnson so that they could vote for it, while last month Caroline Flint suggested that up to 50 Labour MPs might back a deal.
While 50 might be on the high side, 19 Labour rebels would in all likelihood be enough to swing the numbers in Mr Johnson's favour.
It means that there could well be enough votes available for a Brexit deal to be agreed by parliament on Saturday. But it will be tight.
The margin of victory or defeat will likely come down to whether or not Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn will expel any Labour MP who votes for the deal.
If Corbyn grants a free vote, or even a 1-line Whip, it could pass with a huge margin.
My Expectation If DUP On Board
19 Labour MPs minimum
My Expectation If DUP Not On Board
10 Labour MPs on a free vote and possibly anyway
In either case, it appears the deal will pass, but if it is that close, perhaps it fails because a few of those who voted for May's deal do not vote for this one.
But it is not even certain that DUP will vote against the deal. The EU will not revise the deal, but Johnson can likely add some sweeteners
With DUP on board, passage is a near certainty. If Corbyn offers a free vote or a one-line Whip it's also likely to pass easily,
One trick that Corbyn might pull is to allow a free vote on the deal, then demand it be put to a referendum. Such shenanigans would fail, and probably miserably.
Just Found This - Free Vote
I also understand Jeremy Corbyn “promised” some leave-supporting Labour MPs that the whip would not be withdrawn in any circumstances on Saturday— Tom Rayner (@RaynerSkyNews) October 17, 2019
Looks a little convoluted. Here is the rest of the chain:
Amazingly Good Deal
The EU agreement delivers:— Daniel Hannan (@DanielJHannan) October 17, 2019
🇬🇧Supremacy of British law
🚛Independent UK trade policy
💰No annual tribute to Brussels
🚜Control of farming and fishing
🤝Good relations with our EU neighbours
All MPs elected in 2017 on pro-Brexit manifestoes - Labour, Tory and DUP - should back it.
Hannan is a free market advocate. If he likes the deal, so do I.
With one hand tied behind his back, Johnson did amazingly well.