ANALYSIS: How losing Saturday's vote could be good news for Boris Johnson

Posted On: 
17th October 2019

Anyone who tells you they know how Saturday's vote on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal will go is lying to you.

MPs will vote on the PM's deal on Saturday.
PA Images

Given the DUP's refusal to support it, the smart money is on MPs voting it down. But even if they do, will it really be such a bad thing for the Prime Minister?

Yes, the chances are that he will be forced to seek an extension to the 31 October deadline, something he has repeatedly said he will not do.

EXPLAINED: What is in the new Brexit deal and how does it solve the Irish backstop issue?

Boris Johnson announces Brexit deal done despite DUP objections to new agreement

But that could provide the breathing space for a general election in which he will have a strong hand to play.

The PM will be able to say to voters: "I managed to get the deal everyone said was impossible. Give me a majority and I'll have us out within weeks; no ifs, no buts."

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn's message in the election would be: "Give me a majority, I'll renegotiate Johnson's Brexit deal and have a referendum on it within six months."

Whose message would be more appealing to an electorate thoroughly sick and tired of the Brexit psychodrama?

Of course, the Brexit Party could eat into Tory support by rightly pointing out that Johnson had broken his cast-iron promise to deliver Brexit by Hallowe'en.

And there's no guarantee, thanks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, that Johnson would be able to hold an election in any event.

But if he manages to clear those hurdles, there is a pathway - to use the language du jour - to an overall majority which had seemed as unlikely as the deal he has just agreed.