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MPs set for ‘knife-edge’ vote on Johnson’s Brexit deal

London, Oct 19 (IANS) For the first time in 37 years, the UK Parliament will on Saturday to participate in what is being deemed as a “knife-edge” vote on Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit deal, a last attempt before the October 31 deadline to leave the European Union (EU).

Business in the House of Commons will start at 9.30 a.m. (about 2 p.m. IST) – the first weekend sitting since the invasion of the Falklands in 1982, the BBC reported.

Johnson will make a statement to the House and face questions from MPs, before they move on to a debate about the deal.

The timing of any votes depends on which amendments are chosen by the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, but they were not expected before 2.30 p.m. (around 6.30 p.m. IST).

Johnson’s revised deal with the EU was secured at a Brussels summit on Thursday. It ditches his predecessor Theresa May’s backstop, the measure designed to prevent a return to physical checks on the Irish border.

Instead it will, in effect, draw a new customs border along the Irish Sea.

Ahead of the Commons debate, Johnson on Friday urged MPs to “come together” to back his Brexit deal, insisting there was “no better outcome”.

However, his former allies from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and opposition parties, have already announced their plans to to vote against it.

At least nine Labour MPs were expected to rebel.

On Friday evening, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that his party was “united in opposing” Johnson’s “sell-out Brexit deal”.

He said his party would “come together and reject it”.

Also crucial to Johnson’s hopes of success will be the 21 Tories who had the whip withdrawn for supporting a bill to force the Prime Minister to seek an extension to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the BBC said.

Nicholas Soames, who is one such former Conservative, has indicated he will vote in favour of the deal, adding the other 20 would “by and large vote for it”.

Johnson has repeatedly said Brexit will happen by the end of the month with or without a deal.

However, MPs passed a law in September, known as the Benn Act, which requires the Prime Minister to send a letter to the EU asking for an extension until January 2020 if a deal is not agreed – or if MPs do not back a no-deal Brexit.

–IANS

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