Brexit Deal: Voters could turn on Johnson if he fails
The outlook for achieving a Brexit deal has risen significantly in the last week. Boris Johnson’s meeting with Leo Varadkar in Cheshire is making the possibilty move closer.
Johnson has promised countless times to take the UK out of the EU by October 31st, passing a deal would be the easiest way to fulfil that pledge. That, and then the wait for a Brexit boost both for the economy and the Tories in the polls. But things aren’t that so simple. Reports say that passing a Brexit deal might well be Johnson’s best option but that doesn’t mean it is risk-free. Firstly, the most dangerous thing for Johnson would be to try and fail to pass a deal – because the DUP deems it a breach of the union and arch-Brexiteers a betrayal of the EU referendum result. With Brussels currently pushing for more concessions, Johnson faces a difficult political judgement call on how far he can go while keeping the prospect of passing the deal in the Commons alive.
On the other hand, Michel Barnier has spoken of his optimism that a Brexit deal can be reached by the end of today, but EU sources said an extension to Britain’s withdrawal beyond 31 October may still be required if an agreement is secured. According to The Guardian, talks between the negotiating teams are ongoing with the Democratic Unionist party’s issues with the tentative agreement still threatening to derail Downing Street’s plans. The deal on the table would involve the drawing of a regulatory and customs border down the Irish Sea.
Despite the last-minute threat to Downing Street’s plans, the EU’s chief negotiator told Jean-Claude Juncker’s team of commissioners today that he believed a deal could be salvaged in the next few hours.
However, things are not that easy. With Johnson pushing for a looser arrangement with the EU than May, Labour MPs keen for a deal may have second thoughts once they see the detail. Combine this with pressure from Labour whips and the numbers could dwindle. Worse, however, is if Tory MPs or the DUP reject the deal – this would send a signal to voters that this wasn’t the Brexit deal they were promised and prove a gift to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. The Brexit Party are already depicting any Johnson deal as ‘Brexit in name only’.
Were MPs to reject it despite a Johnson pitch, the Prime Minister would have to go into an election with dented Brexiteer credentials, as reports have it; losing more hardcore voters to Farage yet remaining toxic to many Remain voters.
By Jude Chukwuemeka