Johnson May Not Get His Decisive Vote on Saturday: Brexit Update

Robert Hutton, Jessica Shankleman and Greg Ritchie

(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson is talking to MPs as he tries to build a majority in Parliament for the Brexit agreement he reached with the European Union on Thursday. But rebels expelled from his own Conservative Party are moving to postpone the decisive vote -- forcing the prime minister to seek a further extension from the bloc.

French President Emmanuel Macron added to the pressure on MPs weighing how to vote when he told reporters in Brussels that a further extension shouldn’t be granted if Parliament rejects the deal.

Must read: Two Crisis Phone Calls Unlocked the ‘Impossible’ Brexit Deal

Key Developments

Johnson meeting with cabinet in LondonJohnson Sells Brexit Deal to Parliament Before Knife-Edge VoteDUP reaffirms its 10 MPs will vote against Johnson’s deal

Judge Rejects Bid to Block Saturday’s Debate (5:35 p.m.)

A Scottish judge rejected an attempt by legal activist Jolyon Maugham to block Saturday’s vote. The lawyer, who successfully got the courts to quash the prime minister’s prorogation of Parliament, had sought to argue that Johnson’s plans violated an existing law that prevents Northern Ireland being put in a separate customs union to the U.K.

Hammond Seeks Assurances (5:25 p.m.)

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond warned he can’t back Johnson’s deal in its current form because it could be used to trigger a no-deal Brexit in 2020.

Writing in The Times of London, Hammond says he wants assurances from the prime minister that the government won’t crash the U.K. out of the EU without a deal at the end of the transition period.

“I haven’t come this far seeking to avoid no deal in 2019 to be duped into voting for a heavily camouflaged no-deal at the end of 2020,” he wrote. “But I am not a lost cause!”

Labour MPs Propose Referendum Amendment (4:40 p.m.)

Labour MP Peter Kyle has proposed an amendment that would give Parliament’s backing to a referendum on any deal agreed with the EU.

The proposed change is to a motion requesting Parliament’s permission to leave without a deal which might be proposed by the government on Saturday if it fails to win backing for Boris Johnson’s agreement.

“Tomorrow government will ask us to vote on two motions. First, on the new deal. Second, if that fails, for permission to leave with no deal,” Kyle said. “Should the deal fail to get a majority, MPs will move forward and be given the chance to vote” for the amendment, he said. However, ministers could opt not to move the no-deal motion.

The proposed change would add to the motion that Parliament “rejects leaving the European Union without a deal and believes that any final decision on the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU should be subject to a confirmatory referendum before exit day,” Kyle said in a posting on Twitter.

Letwin Says Amendment is ‘Insurance’ (4:15 p.m.)

Former Tory minister Oliver Letwin said he will back Johnson’s deal and his amendment (see 3:15 p.m.) is simply an insurance policy to stop the U.K. accidentally crashing out without a deal if the necessary legislation isn’t completed in time.

“My aim is to ensure that Boris’s deal succeeds, but that we have an insurance policy which prevents the U.K. from crashing out on Oct. 31 by mistake if something goes wrong during the passage of the implementing legislation,” Letwin said in an email. “Nothing in my amendment or in the Benn Act itself in any way delays the actual departure of the U.K. from the EU immediately following the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

SNP Indicates Support for Vote Delay (3.30 p.m.)

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, suggested her party would vote for a proposal to delay the vote on Johnson’s deal until after Saturday. The amendment, drawn up by former Tory Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Hilary Benn, would withhold approval for the Brexit deal until the bill which implements it is law (see 3:15 p.m.).

“We will ultimately vote against this deal but we would be sympathetic to something that would make sure it doesn’t get through tomorrow,” Sturgeon told reporters in London. She said an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline followed by a general election or a referendum would be her preferred outcome.

Saturday May Not Seal the Deal (3:15 p.m.)

Boris Johnson may not even get the chance to put his Brexit deal to the vote on Saturday, with support growing for a move by an alliance of former Conservatives and opposition Members of Parliament to delay the decision by a week or more.

Former Tory minister Oliver Letwin and Labour MP Hilary Benn have put down an amendment to Johnson’s motion which would withhold approval for the Brexit deal until the bill that implements it is law.

If it is passed, Johnson would be unable to put his deal to the vote, leaving him in a situation where he’s obliged by law to seek a delay to Brexit.

Don’t Assume EU Extension, Varadkar Says (2:30 p.m.)

U.K. lawmakers should not assume the EU would grant another Brexit extension if it’s requested, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned, noting such a move would need unanimous consent from EU members. The current proposal is the final offer, he added.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Varadkar said he “cannot see the European Union coming back for another set of negotiations” if the British Parliament rejects this plan. Asked what the alternative is if this deal is shot down in Westminster, he responded that “plan B is no deal.”

Macron Says U.K. Mustn’t Get Delay If Vote Fails (2 p.m.)

French President Emmanuel Macron said the U.K. should not get another extension to the Brexit process if Boris Johnson loses the vote on his Brexit deal in Parliament on Saturday.

“I don’t think a new extension should be granted,” Macron said at a press conference after a summit of EU leaders in Brussels. “The Oct. 31 deadline must be met.”

BNP: U.K. Stocks Could Drop 10% If Vote Lost (12:20 p.m.)

Stocks with heavy exposure to the U.K. economy could wipe out the rally seen over the past week if MPs reject Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal on Saturday, according to BNP Paribas.

The bank forecasts downside of as much as 10% for the FTSE 250 index in such a scenario, with the exporter-heavy FTSE 100 gaining amid weaker sterling, strategists including Edmund Shing wrote in a note to clients.

Johnson Goes on Charm Offensive (12 p.m.)

With Saturday’s vote looking incredibly tight, Boris Johnson and his team are spending the day trying to persuade MPs from all parties to back his Brexit deal.

Labour MPs are being offered more assurances on workers’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would be brought to Parliament next week if Johnson wins on Saturday, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The Prime Minister’s personal focus is on winning around hard line Brexiteers in the European Research Group, and that operation is starting in earnest today, the person said.

The government currently thinks about 17 or 18 of the 21 rebels who were expelled from the Tory party last month will back the deal, the person said. Many of them are seeking a way back into the party and want assurances any MP who votes against the government this time around will also be expelled.

DUP Affirms Opposition to Deal (10:30 a.m.)

Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, extinguished any hopes his party will pivot toward supporting Johnson’s deal. “We will definitely be voting against it,” he told Sky News.

Wilson said he’s disappointed Johnson “folded to the unreasonable demands of the EU,” especially since the DUP had given him a “fair degree of latitude” on temporary Northern Irish regulatory alignment with Europe.

While acknowledging tariffs on goods coming into Northern Ireland from the U.K. would be refunded if they are proven not to have entered the Republic of Ireland, Wilson said the cash-flow problems this would create for local businesses would be damaging.

At Least 10 Labour MPs Back Deal, Mann Says (Earlier)

As speculation mounts over the way votes will fall on Saturday, Labour’s John Mann said at least 10 Labour MPs are likely to vote for Johnson’s deal. Asked on Ireland’s RTE radio how many of his party would back Johnson’s Brexit proposal, Mann responded that he expected the total to be in the “double digits.”

Mann, who will vote for the plan, supported former prime minister Theresa May’s deal and is a vocal critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has called for Labour MPs to reject the deal.

Earlier:

Johnson Sells Brexit Deal to Parliament Before Knife-Edge VoteLondon Bankers Ready for Wave of Debt Deals If Johnson Wins Vote

--With assistance from Peter Flanagan, Joe Easton and Helene Fouquet.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.net;Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny

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