Daniel Boffey, Jennifer Rankin and Rowena Mason – The Guardian Oct 17, 2019
Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker have jointly announced agreement on a new Brexit deal despite the refusal of the Democratic Unionist party to give its backing.
After weeks of negotiations that went deep into the early hours of Thursday morning and with mounting pressure to have legal text ready for EU leaders to read before a summit, the two leaders said an agreement was ready.
The prime minister tweeted: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control – now parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment.”
Leaders are now expected to give their political approval to the revised withdrawal agreement and political declaration on Thursday afternoon.
In a letter to the president of the European council, Donald Tusk, Juncker, the president of the European commission, said it was time for the British parliament to do its part to bring the first phase of the negotiations to an end.
He wrote: “I believe it is high time to complete the withdrawal process and move on, as swiftly as possible, to the negotiation on the European Union’s future partnership with the United Kingdom.”
With the DUP refusing to give its backing, there remains serious doubt that the deal will pass through parliament unless Johnson is able to convince both a significant number of Labour MPs and a large chunk of the 21 MPs whose whip as Conservatives was removed last month
Soon after the agreement was announced, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, rejected it as worse than the deal produced by Johnson’s predecessor in Downing Street, Theresa May.
He said: “From what we know, it seems the prime minister has negotiated an even worse deal than Theresa May’s, which was overwhelmingly rejected.
“These proposals risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections: putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover by US private corporations.
“This sell-out deal won’t bring the country together and should be rejected. The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote.”
In a press conference in Brussels, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the prime minister had backed himself to win over a majority of MPs to support the deal during a phone call earlier in the day with Juncker.
Barnier appeared sceptical of Johnson’s assurances that he would be able to achieve what May had failed to secure on three previous occasions in parliament.
“[Boris Johnson] said, based on this agreement and the explanations he intends to give, he has the confidence to win that vote,” Barnier said. “That is all I can say on that.”