Johnson tries to sell Brexit deal to MPs

Agence France-Presse . London | Published: 13:59, Oct 18,2019


Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson leaves the European Council after the Brexit-dominated European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, on October 18, 2019. — Reuters photo

British prime minister Boris Johnson will on Friday seek to sell his Brexit deal to sceptical MPs, as he returns home fresh from an EU victory but risking defeat in parliament.

Johnson pulled off a major coup in agreeing a new divorce deal with the European Union leader, paving the way for him to deliver his promise to leave the bloc on October 31.

But Thursday’s deal must still pass the House of Commons, which is meeting for a special session on Saturday to debate the text — and many MPs are strongly opposed.

Looking tired after days of intense negotiations, Johnson told a Brussels press conference on late Thursday that he was ‘very confident’ of getting the deal through.

But he has no majority among MPs, opposition parties have come out against the deal and even his parliamentary allies, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, say they cannot support the terms.

If the Commons rejects the deal on Saturday, Johnson will be forced by law to ask the EU to delay Brexit, for what would be the third time — something he says he will not do.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker sought to focus MPs’ minds, saying Brussels can see no need to prolong the tortuous, three-year Brexit process.

‘We have a deal, and this deal means there is no need for any kind of prolongation,’ he said — although the decision to delay, if requested by London, would be for EU leaders.

He further warned that if British PMs rejected the deal it would create an ‘extremely complicated situation’.

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