As the Brexit deadline of 31st October approaches, the new Prime Minister will have to act quickly if he’s going to get a Brexit deal through Parliament.
Boris Johnson has formed a cabinet dominated by Brexiteer MPs, ahead of the tough few months that lie ahead of the PM. Vote Leave campaigners Priti Patel and Dominic Raab take up the positions of Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively.
Other notable Brexiteers, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove also form part of Boris Johnson’s new cabinet, which saw mass appointments on the day Johnson became the Prime Minister.
He will be looking to succeed where his predecessor failed, which ultimately cost Theresa May her job. Is it possible that the new Prime Minister can get a Brexit deal through the Houses of Commons? Or could another Brexit-related PM casualty be on the cards?
Tory Party and the DUP
It looks like Johnson will be heavily reliant on loyalty from his own backbenches. This includes remainers, who are likely to vote against a ‘harder’ form of Brexit than the deal that Theresa May managed to agree with the EU before her departure.
Even though the Conservative Party agreed a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) they have failed to support Theresa May’s Brexit deals. The main reason for this is the ‘backstop’ option, which may threaten the Good Friday Agreement if Northern Ireland are constantly locked in the customs union after the UK depart the EU.
In his speech in Downing Street, Boris Johnson stated that he wants to get rid of the ‘backstop’ and will be hoping to find an alternative solution with the European Union. This will please the DUP, who are a pro-Brexit Party, in spite of their opposition to Theresa May’s previous Brexit deals.
Getting the remainder of the Conservative Party and the DUP on board with a new Brexit deal will probably be the ‘easiest’ part if he negotiates a deal that provides a solution to the Irish border problem.
It’s the other parties that are in strong opposition to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union: Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Change UK (TIG), Plaid Cymru, and the SNP.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has stated several times that he wants a General Election before the UK’s scheduled EU leaving date of 31st October.
This is likely to make it even more difficult for Boris Johnson to win the support of Brexiteer Labour MPs, which might be exactly what the PM needs to get a deal through Parliament.
Corbyn is almost certain to encourage all Labour MPs to oppose any deal that Boris Johnson can bring back to the House of Commons, which could force a General Election to be held before the UK is due to leave.
Corbyn, after years of dilly-dallying over his position on Brexit, now seeks to hold a second referendum on any Brexit deal, against the option of remaining in the EU.
Lib Dems and the Greens
The Liberal Democrat Party have been one of the biggest opposers of leaving the EU, with their Bollocks to Brexit slogan under former leader Vince Cable gaining both praise and criticism across the UK.
Their tune towards Brexit has not changed since Jo Swinson took charge, with this EU policy seemingly ingrained within the party. Just like the SNP, the Liberal Democrats position on Brexit has always been clear since the 2016 referendum result.
Their results in the recent European elections were staggering, and they will be hoping to use this momentum to try and stop the UK leaving with or without a deal. All of their MPs are likely to vote against any possible Brexit deal.
This is the same as the Green Party, who are strongly in favour of free movement within the European Union. Although this is a policy which may not be popular with all remainers, it’s something that people who like to travel freely in the EU could vouch for.
The nationalist parties
The SNP’s leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, has been very vocal in pushing for a second independence referendum in Scotland, and opposing any Brexit deal. They may work with the Liberal Democrats to create a motion which prevents the UK leaving the EU without a deal. All other SNP MPs, like Blackford, are very likely to oppose any deal that is put to Parliament.
This is the same with Plaid Cymru, who only have 4 MPs in Westminster compared to the 35 MPs that the SNP currently have. However, those four likely votes against any withdrawal agreement could be detrimental to Boris Johnson, in the case that he gets closer to breaking the deadlock in Parliament than his predecessor did.
From this evidence, it’s crystal clear that Boris Johnson will need to work closely with the DUP to find a solution to the backstop which the EU and the UK government can agree on. This will be vital to securing their support, which could be crucial with the government barely having a working majority.
Meanwhile, Johnson can pretty much write-off gaining any support from the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party. ‘This leaves Labour as the Prime Minister’s only hope in getting support from his parliamentary opposition.’
Whilst the majority of Labour’s MP’s supported leader Jeremy Corbyn in rejecting all of Theresa May’s past Brexit deals, some did opt to vote for it.
MPs from only three parties out of seven are likely to vote for any future Brexit deal. If the Irish border dilemma can be solved, and Johnson can gain the support of the vast majority of his Party, as well as a selection of Labour MPs, this deal has the possibility of getting through Parliament.
Is this a likely outcome? Not so much, but it’s not impossible.