Brexit: No better outcome than my deal, says Johnson

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Brexit: No better outcome than my deal, says Johnson 16

Boris Johnson has urged MPs to “come together” to back the Brexit deal he has secured with the EU, insisting there is “no better outcome”.

The prime minister told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg he wanted the country to “move on” from Brexit, which he described as “divisive”.

And he said he was hopeful the deal would pass the Commons on Saturday.

The governments former allies in the DUP and every opposition party plans to vote against it.

The new deal, agreed by Mr Johnson and the EU on Thursday, is similar to the one agreed by Theresa May last year – but it removes the controversial backstop clause, which critics say could have kept the UK tied indefinitely to EU customs rules.

Northern Ireland would remain in the UK’s customs union under the new agreement, but there would also be customs checks on some goods passing through en route to Ireland and the EU single market.

Mr Johnson and his team are trying to persuade enough Labour rebels, former Conservatives and Brexiteer Tory rebels to get it across the line in Parliament.

He told the BBC’s political editor: “I just kind of inviting everybody to imagine what it could be like tomorrow (Saturday) evening, if we have settled this, and we have respected the will of the people because we will then have a chance to move on.

“I hope that people will think well, you know, what’s the balance, what do our constituents really want?

“Do they want us to keep going with this argument, do they want more division and delay? Look, you know, this has been a long exhausting and quite divisive business Brexit.”

He repeated his commitment to leave the EU on 31 October, adding: “There’s no better outcome than the one I’m advocating tomorrow.”

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said Brexit will happen by the end of the month with or without a deal.

But MPs passed a law in September, known as the Benn Act, which requires the PM to send a letter to the EU asking for an extension until January 2020 if a deal is not agreed – or if MPs do not back a no-deal Brexit.

Former Tory Sir Oliver Letwin – who was kicked out of the party for backing the law – has put an amendment down to ensure the extension is asked for even if MPs back the deal in the Commons on Saturday.

He said the government could still leave without a deal on 31 October if the PM’s proposals had not passed every stage in Parliament to become law – so the motion would withhold MPs’ approval until that final hurdle is passed.

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In full: Laura Kuenssberg grills Johnson on Brexit deal

Mr Johnson was also quizzed about the deal he has struck with the EU to resolve the issues over the Irish border.

He denied breaking a promise to the DUP, saying: “No I don’t accept that at all.

“I think that what you have is a fantastic deal for all of the UK, and particularly for Northern Ireland because you’ve got a single customs territory. Northern Ireland leaves the EU with the rest of the UK.”

The DUP has accused Mr Johnson of “selling Northern Ireland short” by accepting checks on some goods passing through Northern Ireland to get a deal with the EU.

The party’s deputy leader, Sammy Wilson, has described the deal as “toxic” and is urging Conservative MPs not to back it.

The pro-Brexit European Research Group has previously given its full backing to the DUP.

But while its vice-chairman, Mark Francois, said he “still had some concerns”, another member, Andrew Bridgen, said the “vast majority” of the group “will come to the conclusion that this deal is tolerable”.

Labour plans to vote against the government motion, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying it was a “worse deal” than the one Theresa May struck with Brussels.

The party also attacked the deal after one Conservative MP, John Baron, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme the UK would be able to leave the EU “on no-deal terms” if trade talks failed at the end of the so-called transition period in December 2020.

Labour chairman Ian Lavery said: “The cat has been let out of the bag… [and] no one should be in any doubt that Johnson’s deal is just seen an interim arrangement.”

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The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has also tabled an amendment, calling for a three-month extension to Brexit to allow for an early general election.

Commons business will start at 9:30 BST on Saturday – 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.

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