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Boris Johnson has made a deal with the European Union for Great Britain’s exit, but the deal’s approval by the UK’s parliament remains in doubt.
Johnson now needs to secure the votes needed at an extraordinary session of parliament on Saturday. But the arithmetic is not easy or straightforward for him.
The Northern Irish party that Johnson needs to help ratify any agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has refused to support it, saying it is not in Northern Ireland’s interests. The head of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said he was “unhappy” with the agreement and would vote against it. Labour has said it wants any deal to be subject to a public vote, but as yet has not indicated whether it will back any move for a second referendum on Saturday.
Johnson appears intent on presenting parliament with a stark choice — the deal he has struck or no deal — in the hope of securing enough votes to get approval. “The PM’s position is that it’s new deal or no deal but no delay,” said a senior British government official.
The main issue is Northern Ireland, which now has open borders with the rest of Ireland, as part of the peace deal that settled decades of unrest. Leaving the EU requires some sort of border control, since Ireland is in the European Union. Northern Ireland politicians oppose any border controls.
Johnson’s deal calls for limited border controls. If Great Britain exits with no deal, than full border controls would be imposed. Since Johnson seems very intent on honoring the voters’ decision to leave, one way or the other, we shall have to see which option Parliament chooses.