- 12 Mar 19
A far-right, scandal-ridden, fundamentally religious party in Northern Ireland may decide the fate of the UK this evening.
Theresa May revealed last night that she had obtained new "legally binding assurances" (a phrase that legal experts have said is not in any way factual terminology) from EU negotiators ahead of her vote in the Commons this evening on a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Having witnessed her initial deal being defeated in the Commons in January by 230 votes (the largest government defeat in over 100 years), the Prime Minister had been negotiating with the EU for more concessions, in order to push her deal through Parliament.
As it stands, MPs are being overwhelmingly guarded about which way they'll vote, even on social media. While the anti-Brexiteers have continued to say they'll vote 'no' and the staunch May supporters have indicated that they'll likely vote 'yes', the most pivotal votes will no doubt be the ERG (a group within the Conservatives who represent the Eurosceptic of the party) and the DUP - whose influence amounts to 10 MPs.
Due to the fact that much of the debate around May's deal hinges on the backstop between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, many commentators have pointed out that if the DUP support the deal, then many within the Conservative party will follow suit. In other words, the fate of the entire UK and its relationship with the EU potentially hinges upon a party which was opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and still largely thinks that homosexuality is an abomination....
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 12, 2019
Meanwhile, the view in Dublin is that the original Withdrawal Agreement has not changed legally, with Leo Varadkar using the word "complementary" to describe the changes made between May and EU negotiators last night. "The documents published by the EU and UK last night are complementary to the Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration & provide an additional layer of interpretation, clarification and elaboration to the UK," the Irish Taoiseach said on Twitter.
While much of this will, inevitably, come down to a war of words and whether small gestures can change the perception of key voters in the Commons, Theresa May has already been dealt a blow by her own Attorney General, Geoffery Cox, this morning, who wrote in a letter to her that “The legal risk" to having the backstop "remains unchanged". This will make no doubt make it harder to convince the Tory hardliners that she's been able to deliver actual changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.
Indeed, sources are currently indicating that the DUP will - as it their wont - say "No".
A DUP source says they do not see how the party can support the deal, following Cox's legal advice.
Game over, it would seem.
— Hugh O'Connell (@oconnellhugh) March 12, 2019
The Commons will vote on the Brexit deal this evening at 7pm.