Boris Johnson issues passionate rallying cry to MPs hailing ‘deal that can heal country’

BORIS JOHNSON has urged MPs to back his Brexit deal in a passionate statement to the Commons.

Why Boris Johnson may not get his big Brexit vote after all

LONDON — U.K. MPs are preparing for a historic vote on Brexit — but a rebel plan could scupper Boris Johnson’s hopes of winning clear support for his deal.

The House of Commons will sit on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years to vote on the agreement the prime minister brought back from Brussels.

However, an amendment put forward by former minister Oliver Letwin, who was stripped of the Conservative whip last month after he voted against the prime minister, could mean Johnson doesn’t get a clear vote on his deal after all.

If the amendment wins support from a majority of MPs, it would withhold support for the Brexit deal until all the other legislation needed to pull the U.K. out of the EU has passed. This is key because Saturday is the deadline by which, under U.K. law, the government must get a deal through parliament or be forced to ask the EU27 for an extension to negotiations.

Letwin says he wants to ensure there is no danger that MPs could back Johnson’s deal this weekend but then run out of time to pass the withdrawal legislation before the October 31 Brexit deadline and risk leaving the EU without a deal by mistake.

Boris Johnson lost the support of his informal government partners, the DUP, but he has won the backing of senior figures in the pro-Brexit ERG.

The amendment is a significant blow for Johnson, who wants to give MPs a straight choice of his Brexit pact or leaving the EU without a deal.

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond, who was also stripped of the whip over a separate bid to delay Brexit, said Saturday could not be the final vote “because we do not know the full shape of the package.”

“The Letwin amendment gives us an insurance policy that prevents us having to look at this bill against the constant threat of the government to pull the plug and crash us out on 31 October,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “We have to remove any risk of leaving on October 31 with no deal.”

All Saturday’s votes look very close. It is unclear whether the amendment, if called, would win the numbers needed to pass. The opposition Labour party has confirmed it will back it.

A vote on the deal itself is also on a knife-edge. Johnson lost the support of his informal government partners, the Democratic Unionist Party, but he has won the backing of senior figures in the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs.

He is counting on a number of rebel Labour MPs to back his deal too — around 10 of whom have declared they will.

“I ask everyone to cast their mind forward to the end of today — and imagine what it could be like if the new Brexit deal has been approved,” Johnson wrote in the Sun newspaper this morning. “A difficult, divisive and — yes — painful chapter in our history would be at an end.”

A No.10 official said the government would “send everyone home” if they cannot have a clear vote on the deal, which would effectively boycott a vote on the Letwin amendment.

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