James Forsyth

The EU might tell MPs: it’s this deal or no deal

The EU might tell MPs: it’s this deal or no deal
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Both the UK government and the EU are now saying that a Brexit deal has been done. There is both a revised withdrawal agreement and political declaration. 

However, the DUP are not yet on board. This makes it very hard to see how this deal can pass the Commons.

At Cabinet yesterday, Chief Whip Mark Spencer went through the numbers and his calculations suggested a majority of one. His assumption was that every Tory MP who still has the whip would back it, as would 15 of the 21 Tory rebels and the DUP. The government could also rely on the support of the nine Labour or independent MPs who had previously voted for a withdrawal agreement.

So without the DUP they would need the support of 19 Labour or ex-Labour MPs, even if every Tory MP stayed solid despite the DUP’s reservations. 19 seems like a very ambitious number for Labour support.

This means that unless something changes it looks like we are heading for a vote on a deal in parliament that the government will lose. But the government might have an ace up its sleeve. If the EU tells parliament the choice is between this deal and no deal, then the deal would pass.