International Desk | Sun, 20 October 2019:
Parliament will sit on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years to vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The PM has been trying to convince MPs to support the agreement he secured with the EU, ahead of what is expected to be a knife-edge vote in the Commons. His former DUP allies and opposition parties plan to vote against it.
But at least nine Labour MPs are expected to rebel and the PM is hoping to be backed by some of the Tory MPs he sacked for opposing him last month.
BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar said numbers for the vote looked “painfully tight”, adding Mr Johnson “either has to win round the DUP – which looks close to impossible – or look elsewhere for votes”.
Business in the House of Commons will start at 9:30 BST – the first weekend sitting since the invasion of the Falklands in 1982.
Mr Johnson will make a statement to the House and face questions from MPs, before they move on to a debate about the deal.
The timing of any votes depends on which amendments are chosen by the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, but they are not expected before 14:30.
Saturday’s Brexit debate: What to expect. What is in Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal? Could the Letwin amendment delay Brexit? How might MPs vote on the Brexit deal? Mr Johnson’s revised deal with the EU was secured at a Brussels summit on Thursday. It ditches former PM Theresa May’s backstop, the measure designed to prevent a return to physical checks on the Irish border. Instead it will, in effect, draw a new customs border along the Irish Sea.
Ahead of the Commons debate, Mr Johnson urged MPs to “come together” to back his Brexit deal, insisting there was “no better outcome”.
A number of Tory MPs who voted against Mrs May’s agreement on all three occasions it was put to the Commons have said they will be supporting the deal.
BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley said the latest hardline Brexiteer MP to give Mr Johnson his backing was Mark Francois, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group.
Also crucial to Mr Johnson’s hopes of success will be the 21 Tories who had the whip withdrawn for supporting a bill to force the PM to seek an extension to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Sir Nicholas Soames, who is one such former Tory, has indicated he will vote in favour of the deal, adding the other 20 would “by and large vote for it”.
However, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists have made clear they will not be voting for the deal and have been trying to persuade hardline Brexiteers to follow their lead. Source: BBC