Boris Johnson has just given a very upbeat press conference about his Brexit deal, despite the DUP being clear that they will not back it. The Prime Minister hinted that he would be seeking the support of MPs across the Commons instead, saying: ‘I’m very confident that when MPs of all parties look at the deal, they will see the merit of supporting it, getting Brexit done on October 31st, honouring the promises that were made repeatedly and giving us all the chance to move on’.
Downing Street is working hard on Labour, independent and ex-Tory MPs to try to garner their support, and Johnson tried to address some of the concerns set out by Jeremy Corbyn about protections for workers and the environment. He told journalists that the government had made ‘commitments gladly’ on these issues.
A lot of the session involved Johnson dodging the main questions he was asked. He didn’t just dodge the matter of the DUP turning the deal down, but he also glossed over the fact that Jean-Claude Juncker’s comments on there not being a need for an extension were not as important as it has been made out: this is the preserve of the European Council, not the president of the Commission. When asked if he had talked to fellow European leaders about an extension, Johnson merely said: ‘My view has been very clear for a long time: I just don’t think that delay is an advantage to the UK.’
The sleight of hand that No. 10 wants to perform is to convince MPs that there will not be an extension if they vote against this deal, and that therefore the choice on Saturday will be between a deal or no deal. This says a number of rather amusing things about how Johnson’s aides view the ability of the average MP to pay attention to detail.