BILLED ‘Super-Saturday’, this is the most critical day in the Brexit saga yet. The House of Commons will vote on the deal finalised in Brussels on Thursday morning and if it is approved it will open the way for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It is, however, a big ‘if’. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which gave the Conservative government its slim majority before the departure of the 23 MPs opposed to no-deal Brexit, has said it would vote against the deal as would the Labour Party.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was confident the deal would go through, saying that “when my colleagues in parliament study this agreement, they will want to vote for it on Saturday and in succeeding days.” He had received a helping hand from the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who had said there would be no Brexit extension as “we have a deal,” the implication being that if British failed to approve the deal the UK would have to leave without a deal on October 31st.
The ruling out of another extension would probably have persuaded enough MPs to back the deal in order to avoid a hard Brexit, but Johnson’s strategy was dealt a blow by the EU’s heads of state and government who left the door open for another extension. A communique by the European Council asked the Commission and European parliament to take “the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on November 1,” but senior EU officials were quoted as saying the leaders would leave the door open to the possibility of an extension, something repeated by Chancellor Merkel on Friday.
It was difficult to keep up with the countless different, possible scenarios reported by the British media which were trying to predict how the vote would go. The outcome of ‘Super-Saturday’ is impossible to call as is the direction the Commons debate will take, considering it will be possible for MPs to debate and vote on multiple amendments of the government motion. Some predicted there would be another request for an extension, before the motion is approved, to prevent a no-deal over some technicality.
If parliament fails again to reach a decision, the logical step would be to allow the people to decide, voting Johnson’s deal or remaining in the EU. It is the only way to bring the Brexit saga to a conclusion. If the majority of the people are committed to leaving the EU, then they would vote to leave again in a confirmatory vote. Giving the British voters a second chance to decide, now they are much better-informed than they were in 2016 about the consequences of Brexit, may be the only option left is parliament fails to approve Johnson’s deal.