Politics

Brexiteers could still vote against Boris’ Brexit deal ‘we won’t let the public down’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been battling to try to secure a deal with the European Union before the UK’s scheduled departure date, and ahead of the crunch EU summit, which starts on Thursday. Speaking following a meeting in Number 10, Steve Baker explained how the ERG could still vote against the Prime Minister’s deal.

He said: “At the moment we are in a position where the Prime Minister needs to finish negotiating for the country, come back with a deal and when we can see a deal, we can say what we are doing.

“I know everybody is desperate for us to say whatever we can vote for it.

“Until we can see it, we can’t say.”

He added: “All of us now are in the territory that we have explained all of our concerns.

“We have been through them in detail and are all very much hoping that come the vote we will be with the Prime Minister.

“There are thousands of people out there counting on us not to let them down, and we are not going to.”

He continued: “So, we are just really wishing the Prime Minister well, and we are hoping he has total success.

“We know there will be compromises, but we will be looking at this deal in detail, with a view to support it, but until we get that text, we can’t say.”

It comes as Prime Minister Mr Johnson has been trying to push the UK closer to securing an agreement with the European Union before the scheduled deadline.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday a deal could be found between Britain and the European Union in the coming hours.

Macron told a news conference: “I agree with what the German chancellor said on Brexit, and our hope, our willingness to be in a position to endorse a deal, which I hope can be found in the coming hours. In any case, what we’re hearing today is positive.”

Mr Johnson has acknowledged there are still “outstanding issues” to get a deal secured on the final day before the EU summit.

His official spokesman said the Prime Minister had on Wednesday afternoon updated his Cabinet, which gave its “full support” to get a deal ahead of the summit after a “positive discussion”.

The spokesman added: “He said there was a chance of securing a good deal but we are not there yet and there remain outstanding issues.”

During a brief address to the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Mr Johnson compared the situation to climbing Mount Everest, according to MPs who attended.

Referring to the Prime Minister, leading Brexiteer Mark Francois said: “He said ‘we are not quite at the summit, we are at the Hillary Step’.

“‘The summit is not far but at the moment there is still cloud around the summit’.”

Mr Francois added: “The other thing he said was if we cannot achieve a deal despite the best efforts of the United Kingdom, we will still leave the European Union at Halloween.

“He was absolutely crystal clear about that.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that negotiations had so far failed to resolve issues standing in the way of an amicable Brexit, with EU sources reporting a standstill.

The Prime Minister needs to get a deal approved at the summit of EU leaders starting in Brussels on Thursday if he is to avoid a huge debate over a potential Brexit delay.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay confirmed that Mr Johnson will write a letter asking for an Article 50 extension if no deal is in place by Saturday, something the Prime Minister has repeatedly ruled out.

DUP leader Arlene Foster quickly moved to reject a suggestion that her party had accepted the latest proposal on consent.

Irish broadcaster RTE reported that two senior EU sources had confirmed it.

But Mrs Foster tweeted: “‘EU sources’ are talking nonsense. Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support.”

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