As it happenedended1571349090

Boris Johnson news: EU agrees Brexit deal as parliament clears way for second referendum vote

PM faces Commons battle to gain approval from MPs

Adam Forrest,Lizzy Buchan,Zamira Rahim
Thursday 17 October 2019 18:48 BST
Boris Johnson confirms Brexit deal is 'very good deal'

Boris Johnson has said he is “very confident” MPs will want to back his Brexit deal after UK and EU officials secured an agreement at a critical summit in Brussels.

But the prime minister’s DUP allies poured cold water on his hopes of progress by declaring they will oppose the plan – leaving Mr Johnson scrambling to find votes elsewhere.

The PM faces an uphill struggle to get his deal approved at an historic Commons sitting this Saturday.

MPs have won a key parliamentary vote paving the way for a bid to secure a second referendum on Saturday.

Senior Labour party figures, such as John McDonnell, have strongly criticised the agreement.

“The more people examine text of Johnson deal, the more you realise what a sell out deal it is,” Mr McDonnell said on Twitter.

“It’s not just the DUP, he’s sold out virtually every sector of our economy & all those who may have voted to leave believing a deal could be secured that protected their jobs.”

European leaders unanimously endorsed the proposal on Thursday and formally sent it to the British parliament.

“This is a great deal for our country. I also believe it’s a very good deal for our friends in the EU,” Mr Johnson told reporters in Brussels.

“There is a very good case for MPs across the House of Commons to express the democratic will of the people, as we have pledged many times to do and to get Brexit done.”

If you would like to see how the day’s events unfolded, please see what was our live coverage below:


Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of events at Westminster and Brussels, where EU leaders arrive for a two-day summit with Brexit unresolved.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:19

Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan has received a crushing blow just hours ahead of a critical EU summit, as the DUP said they “could not support” current proposals. 

In a statement this morning Arlene Foster said: “As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues, and there is a lack of clarity on VAT.”

All the details here:

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:19

Some of Boris Johnson’s allies have suggested he could still win a majority for his deal without the DUP’s 10 MPs.

One senior Tory told The Times the number of DUP-allied “Spartans” in the party could be cut down to somewhere between seven and ten.

The source said: “Our whipping is going to be medieval.”

According to one member of the ERG, the idea is merely defiant bluster: “If the DUP aren’t on board, there’s no way it gets through.”

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:23

Labour is ready to vote for a Final Say referendum on Saturday if Boris Johnson somehow brings an EU withdrawal deal back from Brussels, the party’s shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman has said.

It’s understood Labour MPs will be whipped to back an amendment requiring a Johnson agreement to be put to a public vote.

All the details here.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:25

Labour MP Louise Ellman has quit the party after 55 years as a member, saying she can no longer advocate voting for the party “when it risks Corbyn becoming PM”.

Zamira Rahim has more.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:26

It now appears too late for Boris Johnson to get a legal agreement signed off at the EU summit.

Even if there’s a miraculous breakthrough with the DUP, one ambassador said: “It can only be a political agreement. We have not seen texts and done legal scrubbing.”

It would mean any vote in parliament on Saturday would only be “indicative”, with another vote needed later in the month on the final legal text.

Our Europe editor Jon Stone has more on the impasse ahead of today’s summit.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:29

So what happens next? If Boris Johnson cannot get a deal approved by Saturday he is required to ask the EU for a three-month extension to the current October 31 deadline.

But the EU is not obliged to grant the UK an extension of any particular length – leading to speculation a delay until the summer of 2020 might be possible.

Calculating that Johnson would not be getting a deal through parliament, a bunch of rebel alliance MPs hopped on the Eurostar for an outing to Brussels on Wednesday.

The cross-party group – including Dominic Grieve, Vince Cable, David Lammy and Caroline Lucas – held meetings with EU officials and impressed upon them the need to sanction a long extension to Article 50.

Lucas said they wanted “a meaningful extension that is long enough to have a democratic event”.Fearing Johnson could soon bamboozle EU chiefs into agreeing only a short delay, Grieve said parliamentarians needed “enough space for either a general election or another referendum.”

What did the Europeans make of our daring rebels? Grieve said they had been “reasonably well” received.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:41

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice MEP said he would rather have a short extension than another referendum.

“We would never support a second referendum,” he told Sky News. “It would destroy trust in democracy, it would infuriate the electorate, it would be divisive, it would be ugly - under no circumstances would we support a second referendum.

“We would rather leave with a clean break on October 31.

“Faced with the alternative, we would rather [have] a very short extension so there could be a general election, and a Leave alliance could win a thumping majority and then leave on a clean-break Brexit because we would then have the numbers in the House of Commons.”

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 08:51

Labour will back an amendment on a “Final Say” referendum this Saturday – if Boris Johnson somehow brings an EU withdrawal deal back from Brussels.

It’s understood Labour MPs will be whipped to back an amendment requiring any Brexit deal to be put to a public vote.

It doesn’t completely change the leadership’s policy – which remains in favour of a general election after no-deal is taken off the table before a second Brexit referendum. But as ITV’s Paul Brand suggests, it’s a shift towards stronger support for a public vote.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 09:01

Mina Andreeva, the European Commission’s chief spokeswoman, said Boris Johnson had spoken to Jean-Claude Juncker this morning.

Adam Forrest17 October 2019 09:04

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