Boris Johnson faces race to convince MPs to back his Brexit deal

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

Boris Johnson faces a race against time to convince MPs to vote for his newly-negotiated Brexit deal.

The prime minister said he was "very confident" and there is a "very good case" for MPs to vote in favour of his deal in a historic parliamentary sitting on Saturday.

His deal faces significant opposition - including from Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP - to get his deal through the House of Commons, in what will be the first weekend sitting since April 1982.

Timeline of key events leading up to and beyond October 31's Brexit deadline. Credit: PA Graphics

Mr Johnson's key allies, the DUP, have rejected his Brexit deal, while the SNP have tabled an amendment which rejects the current deal, demands a further Brexit extension and calls for a general election.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson said he would "fight hard" to get parliamentarians to back their Brexit stance, which could prove influential with some Tory MPs.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell said the deal Mr Johnson had negotiated was worse than the deal negotiated by previous prime minister Theresa May, with Mr Corbyn adding: "As it stands we cannot support this deal."

Labour MPs who vote for the deal had been threatened with deselection by Jon Lansmann, a senior member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

When asked if the party would undertake such moves, a Labour spokesman pointed to Mr Corbyn's previous comments, where the Labour leader said: "I believe in the power of persuasion rather than the power of threat".

  • ITV News Political Correspodent Libby Wiener on what happens next for Mr Johnson's Brexit deal

The prime minister urged parliamentarians to “come together and get this thing done” after EU leaders approved the deal before the key summit began in Brussels on Thursday.

He appealed to those in Northern Ireland as well as across party lines in order to encourage support for the deal. Appealing to Arlene Foster’s DUP, he insisted the country can leave the bloc “as one United Kingdom” and “decide our future together”.

“I am very confident that when my colleagues in Parliament study this agreement that they will want to vote for it on Saturday and in succeeding days,” he said.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged MPs to back Mr Johnson's newly negotiated deal. He said: "This is win, win, win. I think there's a really strong case to sign up to this deal and get Brexit done and dusted and allow the country to move forward.

It remains to be seen whether Eurosceptic MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) will back Mr Johnson's Brexit deal.

The support of ERG members is seen as vital to the deal's success.

Steve Baker, head of the group, tweeted: "Sorry - no news from us before the morning. (One or two journalists have been asking!)"

Brexit hangs in the balance

The Daily Telegraph reported that between 10 to 15 Labour MPs are willing to back Mr Johnson's Brexit negotiations to avoid a no-deal scenario - support Mr Johnson will need if he wants to get his deal through the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson's Conservative Party is short of a parliamentary majority, meaning he will need the support of opposition MPs.

Jean-Claude Juncker piled pressure of MPs to back the deal in parliament, telling journalists on Thursday there may not be another extension to the October 31 deadline.

But European Council president Donald Tusk said if Britain asked for a Brexit extension, the EU would "consult with other member states to see how they react”.

What happens next?

MPs voted to hold the first weekend sitting of parliament since the Falklands War on Thursday, where they will vote on Mr Johnson's deal on Saturday.

If his deal is not passed by parliament, he faces the prospect of asking for another extension, something which he is compelled to do under the Benn act.

The DUP's stance is important because the party wields influence over some hardline Tory Brexiteers and Mr Johnson is far short of a parliamentary majority.

A total of 635 votes will be in play when the deal is debated, which means the Government will need at least 318 votes to be certain of a majority.

Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker at a press conference to announce their new Brexit deal on Thursday. Credit: PA

If every Conservative MP who is able to vote also backs the deal, this gives the Government 285 votes.

Mr Johnson did not rule out suspending the whip from Tories who rebelled on Saturday, or say whether he would welcome back the 21 he exiled for previously voting against his will.

Mr Johnson also has the backing of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he would back the deal if he were still an MP.

Speaking at Harrogate’s Crown Hotel on the first night of the town’s literature festival, Mr Cameron said: “I think it’s much better to leave with a deal, and I think Boris has done well to achieve that deal. I hope he’ll get it through parliament, I suspect he will but it will be tight.”