Political analysts predict that Saturday’s UK parliamentary vote on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal will be much tighter than the three previous unsuccessful ballots.
How the numbers stack up
Johnson needs to convince 320 lawmakers to back the new EU divorce deal. His predecessor Theresa May’s plan failed to get parliamentary support on three occasions. Her best result, in March, saw support from just 286 MPs.
But with no parliamentary majority, only 285 of Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party lawmakers could, in theory, support him.
Who will vote for the new deal?
Having voted against the first plan, many Conservative Brexiteers say they will support the last-minute divorce deal.
Among them are members of the hardline European Research Group led by influential chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg. His support is seen as key to ensuring the party’s Euroskeptics are fully on board.
In parliament on Thursday, he said every MP who promised to support the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum vote “can support this [deal] with confidence.”
Less certain is the support of 20 rebel Conservative MPs who Johnson fired last month for their involvement in Parliament’s successful bid to block a no-deal Brexit. Along with former Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who resigned in protest, these now independent lawmakers could vote against him.
The MPs are due to meet with Johnson on Friday and may support his deal if they are reinstated by the party. While largely pro-EU, most of them voted at every opportunity for Theresa May’s deal; to have any realistic chance of success, Johnson will have to add several of them to the roughly 259 guaranteed votes from his own party.
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Who will vote against?
The leader of the main opposition Labour Party, with 245 seats in the lower House of Commons, has already rejected the bill. Although around 20 hardline Brexiteers within the party could rebel, most are expected to toe the party line and vote against.
Leaders from the Scottish National Party (35 seats) and Liberal Democrats (19 seats) have also said they will not back the deal.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Union Party (DUP), which supports Johnson’s minority government in most legislation, and whose support is vital, said on Friday that its 10 MPs will not only reject the plan but will actively seek to convince other undecided lawmakers to vote against it.
The border issue between Northern Ireland and EU member, the Republic of Ireland, has been the main sticking point in Brexit negotiations.
“Without the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Johnson appears to be between 15 and 20 votes short of the 320 votes needed to guarantee victory,” consulting firm Eurasia Group has predicted.
Will Europe approve the deal?
As if the UK parliamentary hurdle isn’t large enough, the Brexit deal must also clear the European Parliament and then be approved by the parliaments of the remaining 27 EU members.
The European Parliament’s chief Brexit official Guy Verhofstadt has warned that euro lawmakers may need longer than the October 31 Brexit deadline to approve the divorce plan.
Although individual EU states are widely expected to endorse the deal, Spain, for example, could take issue with how the Brexit deal impacts the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
A delay could also come from an unexpected source. The EU’s 2016 trade deal with Canada almost failed to pass after being held up by the government of the French-speaking region of Belgium.
mm,kmm/rt (Reuters, AP, dpa)