Boris Johnson tells Tory MPs he's 'close to Everest summit' on Brexit deal 'but it's shrouded in mist'

Posted On: 
16th October 2019

Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs he is “close to the summit” on a Brexit deal but it “is still shrouded in mist”.

Boris Johnson told MPs he is close to getting a Brexit deal ahead of Thursday crunch EU summit
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister gave an update to the backbench 1922 Committee in Parliament claiming he is close to getting an agreement with Brussels ahead of tomorrow’s crunch EU summit.

However he failed to provide any detail to his fellow Conservatives, with hard-line Brexiteers saying they will need to see the legal text before voting in favour of it.

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Mr Johnson made a flying visit to the committee, spending less than five minutes updating colleagues on the progress in the talks, with MPs describing it afterwards as “vintage Boris”.

One MP said the PM told them: “We’re not quite at the summit, we’re at the Hillary step on the way up Mount Everest, the summit is not far, but at the moment it is still shrouded in mist.”

The Hillary step was known as the most technically difficult part of climbing the world’s tallest mountain, but the nearly vertical rock face close to the peak was destroyed by an earthquake in 2015.

The PM has been having a number of meetings with the DUP and the ERG group of Tory Eurosceptics as he tries to win the backing of MPs for a deal.

He is expected to travel to Brussels on Thursday to get it ratified by the other 27 EU countries before bringing it back for a vote in Parliament on Saturday.

The Government has tabled a motion for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords to sit from 9.30am till 2pm, the first weekend sitting since the Falklands War in 1982.

He will need the support of the ERG for any deal to pass, but its chairman Steve Baker said their votes were not guaranteed yet.

“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves until there’s a legal text we’re not going to make a decision,” Mr Baker told reporters outside the 1922 meeting.

“I’m afraid we’ve come this far, Eurosceptics always pay attention to meticulous, tedious analysis of the detail of legal texts - and that’s what we’re going to do.”

He added: “If I’m not shown the legal text I will vote no.”

That was echoed by its deputy chair Mark Francois and another leading Brexiteers Bernard Jenkin and Iain Duncan Smith.

“You’d need a legal text to get it through. We don’t know what it is,” Mr Duncan Smith told journalists of the deal.

“We’re on board until we know it’s time to climb off the board.”