Theresa May struck a deal with the EU that MPs would not support. Boris Johnson looks to have cooked one up that MPs will back but the EU will not.
The former PM looked on somewhat sceptically in the Commons today as her successor laid it on thick about how much he had compromised. “We have made a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, and to go the extra mile as time runs short,” Johnson told MPs.
He has until October 19 before, legal loopholes aside, he has to ask to delay Brexit beyond October 31.
In the Commons the Spartan purists on the Tory benches signalled they were prepared to come on board. Steve Baker told PM he saw the “glimpse the possibility of a tolerable deal”. Johnson, who has talked a lot with the Brexit Hardman in recent days, greeted his softening with “no little sense of relief”, if not surprise.
With one eye firmly fixed on persuading Labour rebels worried about no-deal to back his plan, Johnson’s statement was really rather calm and considered. The “sincerity” of his opponents was recognised. The PM was merely “disappointed” at critics rather than outraged. He sparingly deployed the “Surrender Act” attack in a muted, almost apologetic, manner. The anger in the chamber last week, which often resembled an Extinction Rebellion blood-spurting hose gone rogue, was avoided.
Jeremy Corbyn warned his own benches that “no Labour MP” should support Johnson’s “Trump Deal” as it would be “used as a springboard to attack rights and standards in this country”.
BuzzFeed’s Alex Wickham has fired up his traditional vote counter to keep a tally of the Brexit rebels who voted against May’s deal but have indicated they will back Johnson’s. And LabourList has a useful rundown of what Labour backbenchers seen as most likely to back the PM have been saying. To test the support for the deal in Westminster, Johnson said he was open to the idea of holding a Commons vote before the European Council meets on October 17.
Unsurprisingly Johnson’s proposal, explained neatly here in The Guardian, has not gone down too well with the EU. European Council President Donald Tusk is “unconvinced”. The European Parliament’s Brexit steering group dismissed the proposal as “not even remotely acceptable”. Guy Verhofstadt told Channel 4 News it was “nearly impossible” for the EU to accept. Irish PM Leo Varadkar said the plan “falls short in a number of aspects”. And his deputy Simon Coveney said “if that is the final proposal, there will be no deal”.
Johnson suggested in the Commons would be prepared to compromise even more. He notably did not accept invitations to confirm the proposal was his “final offer” to the EU. But it’s not clear if he could bring the Spartans and the DUP with him any further – even if he wanted to. And some suspect No.10’s real plan, having played up how much the UK is prepared to “compromise”, is to ensure the EU will be blamed for causing a no-deal exit ahead of the looming general election.
Quote Of The Dayhttps://twitter.com/andrealeadsom/status/1179733728765075459
Thursday Cheat Sheet
President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested China should investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, appearing to openly ask another foreign government to influence an American election, even as Congress investigates him for allegedly pressuring Ukraine into doing the same thing.
Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings is facing the possible withdrawal of his Westminster pass after a Tory peer urged tough action over his ‘contempt’ of parliament.
Scotland has become the first country in the UK to ban parents and carers from smacking children. MSPs voted by 84 to 29 in favour of introducing a law which will make it a criminal offence for parents to use physical punishment against a child.