European Parliament Vice-president ‘not at all convinced' newly-agreed Brexit deal will be approved by UK policymakers

Written by Martin Banks on 18 October 2019 in News

Numbers do not appear to ‘stack up for Boris Johnson, says senior Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness.

Mairead McGuinness | Photo credit: Natalie Hill

European parliament vice president Mairead McGuinness has admitted she is “not at all convinced” the newly-agreed Brexit deal will get through a vote in the UK’s House of Commons this weekend.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to persuade British MPs, including opposition Labour members, to back his Brexit deal ahead of what is expected to be a knife-edge vote on so-called “Super Saturday” (19th October).

It will be the first sitting of the House of Commons, on a Saturday, in 37 years since the Falklands war.


Johnson has insisted he is “very confident” MPs will back the new deal but Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is opposed to his plans meaning the British Prime Minister faces a battle to get the agreement through the UK Parliament.

If the vote ends in a tie – seen by some as a real possibility - the speaker of the Commons will have the casting vote.

Frantic talks were taking place on Friday with the outcome of the vote widely expected to be on a knife’s edge. It has been suggested some Labour and Liberal Democrats MPs will back the deal if Johnson agrees to put the deal it to a public referendum, something most see as unlikely.

If Johnson’s deal is backed by a majority the UK will finally quit the EU, as he has repeatedly promised, on 31 October.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Remain supporters will hold a march in London.

“This deal is worse than the poor deal agreed by Theresa May and infinitely worse than our current deal as EU members” British Greens MEP Molly Scott Cato

Speaking in Brussels on the eve of the crucial Commons vote, European Parliament vice president Mairead McGuinness said it “was not at all clear” how British MPs will vote but it appeared that “the numbers do not appear to stack up” to support the deal agreed early on Thursday in Brussels.

At present, Johnson needs the backing of rebel member of his Conservative Party plus some Labour MPs to get his deal over the line.

McGuinness said, “We have been through a rough few years and many will now find this a very disturbing moment. A lot of Remainers will feel devastated (that a deal has been agreed).”

She added that the “complex deal” had left her feeling “numb”, adding, “it bring us back to where we were when Theresa May tried and failed three times to get her deal through.”

“It is not at all clear if Mr Johnson will get a majority but one thing is for sure: We will all be glued to the Commons on Saturday,” she said.

Speculating on what may happen if MPs reject the deal, she added, “We in this [European] parliament will probably have to make some decisions over the weekend.”

If the deal is backed on Saturday, it is expected MEPs will vote on it sometime next week in Strasbourg. Any Brexit deal approved by the UK must also be approved by the European Parliament.

“Once the European council has referred the agreement and political declaration to us, the relevant committee will prepare and vote on a proposal, which will then be submitted to the full house.”

“The European Parliament will not proceed with any consent vote until the UK parliament has approved an agreement with the EU.”

“[This deal] bring us back to where we were when Theresa May tried and failed three times to get her deal through” European parliament vice president Mairead McGuinness

On Friday, further reaction came from MEPs, including Molly Scott Cato, a Greens deputy, who told this website, “The numbers at Westminster look tight but I think it won’t pass without Labour MPs and any who vote for the deal would be condemning their working class voters to precarious work and permanent austerity.”

Scott Cato, the Green Party’s spokesperson on Brexit, told this site, “This deal is worse than the poor deal agreed by Theresa May and infinitely worse than our current deal as EU members.”

“It is disappointing to see Michel Barnier concede on the Irish backstop, which was there to protect the integrity of the single market, and the level playing field, the downgrading of which risks a race to the bottom on environmental protections, consumers standards and workers’ rights.”

“It is now incumbent on progressive MPs, who know that leaving with this deal is far worse than remaining as an EU member, to block this in parliament on Saturday. People must have their say on this through a confirmatory referendum.”

“A million people outside Westminster joining the People’s Vote March and millions more around the country will be watching closely and expecting their MPs to act in the national interest.”

Elsewhere, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Iratxe García said, "I am glad that there is a political deal with the UK for an orderly Brexit, because this can only benefit citizens both in the EU and in the UK. It looks like things are moving in the right direction, but there is still some way to go.

But she also reiterated, “We need time to study the technical details, and the deal must be backed first by the British Parliament and then by the European Parliament.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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