Theresa May secured agreement from the EU on Sunday for her Brexit deal. And now the hard part begins - convincing MPs to vote for it.
An extended BBC Andrew Marr Show had a bumper list of guests this morning, including Jeremy Hunt, Arlene Foster, Richard Burgon and Tony Blair.
Speaking to Marr, Hunt admitted it would be “challenging” for the prime minister to get her deal through the Commons in December.
And asked whether the government could collapse if the deal falls, he offered an ominous warning. “It’s not possible to rule out anything,” he said.
The foreign secretary gave the deal the most lukewarm of endorsements. “This deal, as it stands, mitigates most of the negative impacts,” he said. “I think we will not be significantly worse off or better off.” Quite the rallying cry.
He added: “This isn’t a perfect deal for everyone but it does have a lot of what everyone wants and the question is whether we can use it to get everything we want and that will be difficult but it’s not impossible.”
Pro-Brexit Tory MPs are threatening to sink May’s deal. As is the DUP. Party leader Arlene Foster told Marr she would definitely order her MPs not to support it. And in a further threat, said she would “review” her party’s confidence and supply agreement with the Tories if the deal passed.
Interestingly, Foster seemed open to a different sort of Brexit deal that kept the entire UK in the EEA. The so-called Norway-style arrangement.
Asked if she would back that, Foster said: “Well, we’ve always been very keen to give the government the space to negotiate a deal in terms of Brexit. That’s the way we’ve always operated. But the one thing that we could not have was a difference between us and the rest of the UK in terms of international trade, in terms of customs, in terms of regulations.”
Richard Burgon, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, channelled his inner Michael Gove.
Told it was “very unlikely” enough Tory MPs would ever agree to trigger a general election, Burgon hit back at Marr for believing “experts”.
“A lot of things have seemed unlikely in politics recently and lots of the experts have got it wrong. The experts predicted the last EU referendum wrong, the experts said that Trump could never be elected and wish he hadn’t have been,” he said.
“The experts said that Labour would be smashed at the last general election, we
“The experts said Jeremy Corbyn would never be elected as prime minister. I think the age of the experts is over. The age of political certainty is over.”
Tony Blair, who is pushing for a second referendum, said a so-called People’s Vote was the “only way you are going to unite the country”.
He told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show people should choose between the sort of “proper Brexit” advocated by Boris Johnson or remaining in the EU.
Blair added he expected Labour to eventually back another vote. Asked if there was a majority in Parliament for his position he said: “Not yet but I think it will get there.”
He added: “I think it’s moving that way and I would be really surprised if the Labour Party doesn’t end up in the position of supporting another vote.
“Because there’s no other proposition that can get through Parliament.”
Over on Sky News, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said it would be “very, very difficult” to support the Prime Minister’s deal arguing “far too much has been given to the EU”.
He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Well I don’t want to stay in the EU. I campaigned and voted to leave the EU. I don’t believe that, so far, this deal delivers on what the British people really voted for, take back control of your borders, your laws, your money. I think it has ceded too much control.”
Ridge also exposed another problem for May - the diminishing number of Labour MPs who look likely to back her.
Lisa Nandy, who had hinted she could be persuaded to back the deal to avoid a no deal exit, ruled out voting with the prime minister.
Asked if she would be supporting the deal, she said: “Well I’d hoped that it would be, but in all honesty no it’s not and it’s inconceivable now that when this comes before Parliament in just a few days time that I’ll be voting for it. I won’t be voting to support the Withdrawal Agreement.”
She added: “There is a real prospect now of no deal because many of those Leave voters, contrary to the opinion in Westminster, actually dislike this deal more than the Remain voters who contact me on a regular basis.”