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Outlook does not look pretty for Boris Johnson in vote on Brexit deal | Politics News

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Boris Johnson has spent the day negotiating not only with Brussels but also with the DUP and the Brexiteers of the European Research Group (ERG).

The four-way chess has been tortuous and hasn’t resulted in a deal tonight.

But even if any form of agreement is miraculously sorted by the end of the week, Mr Johnson faces another massive political hurdle before he can believe in fulfilling his dream of leaving the EU on 31 October: getting it through the Commons.

An analysis by Sky News of the possible numbers suggests pessimism would be wise at this stage and it will come down to the finest of margins on Saturday.

There are 650 MPs but after the Speakers and Sinn Fein, only 639 them vote.

This means the prime minister needs 320 MPs to vote for his plan on Saturday in order to be sure of a majority.

All current Conservative MPs can realistically be expected to vote for it, with a small chance of a rebellion just one or two Brexiteer “spartans”.

So being charitable to Number 10, that’s 287 votes in favour – although Brexiteers who will largely take their cue from the Northern Ireland unionists may drag this down slightly.

There is only a deal if the DUP give its approval so if the vote is going ahead, their 10 MPs will be giving their support as well, taking the numbers voting for the government – on an optimistic tally – to 297.



Steve Baker of the ERG says he and his colleagues 'wish the prime minister well' in attempting to close a Brexit deal




ERG: We can’t vote for a deal until we see it

So where are the other 23 votes coming from?

There are two pools that Number 10 can fish in.

One is Labour MPs in Leave-leaning seats, and the other is the 21 former Tory MPs who lost the whip last month after a no-deal rebellion.

Neither will provide a straightforward win, despite attempts by Number 10 in recent days.

Number 10 will be particularly worried about their lack of apparent process among the former Tories.

Guto Bebb, one of the former Tories, told Sky News tonight that he would not vote for the prime minister’s deal, and that he believed that would be true for “six to eight” MPs in his group.

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This still leaves 12 to 14 more MPs willing to vote for Mr Johnson, although this could be even smaller.

Another member of the group suggested a much worse prognosis for Mr Johnson – that a dozen might vote against Mr Johnson’s deal, leaving only eight or nine votes in favour.

MPs begin debating Queen's Speech in Commons

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The prime minister will need the support of Labour or independent MPs as well as Tories

Downing Street must bear the blame for some of this.

At a meeting this week between some of the no-deal rebels and Number 10, Greg Clark asked if they supported the deal whether they’d be allowed to take the Tory whip once again.

They were told that Number 10 hadn’t thought about it yet, a response which surprised and dismayed some around the table.

Then there are the Labour MPs.

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Some 19 of them signed a letter indicating they might be prepared to back Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal in the right circumstances.

However at private meetings this week, Number 10 aides suggested they were unwilling to budget anything like as much as needed to allow Stephen Kinnock and his allies to vote for it.

This means the Labour cohort voting for a deal could be five or less.

This very rough estimate suggests that Mr Johnson has around 19 of the 23 necessary votes, with a dozen independents, many of whom were formerly in the Labour Party, possibly now critical.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Boris Johnson is facing a tough battle ahead

All of this assumes no ERG rebellion, and the numbers for Mr Johnson are only likely to get worse.

This will come down to the slimmest possible margins if it does get as a far as a vote on Saturday, but the outlook doesn’t look pretty.

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