- Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal close to collapse after his governing partners refuse to support it.
- Agreement between the EU and UK is broadly in place but the prime minister has yet to secure the support he needs to pass it through the UK parliament.
- The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Johnson’s government, say they cannot support three key elements of the deal.
- The prime minister will head to Brussels on Thursday for last-ditch talks.
- Failure to pass an agreement before Saturday means he will be required under law to request that Brexit is delayed.
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Boris Johnson’s hopes of agreeing a Brexit deal that will allow him to keep his promise to take the UK out of the EU this month were dashed on Thursday morning after his governing partners withdrew their support for his proposed agreement.
The prime minister is due to travel to Brussels this morning in a last ditch attempt to secure an agreement with the EU.
However, while the broad terms of a deal have been established between Brussels and London, Johnson has yet to secure the support from his governing partners in London which would allow any deal to pass through the UK parliament.
The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Johnson’s minority government, said in a statement early on Thursday that they could not support the current deal due to their opposition to three key elements of the proposed agreement.
“As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues and there is a lack of clarity on VAT,” the party’s leader and deputy, Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds said in a statement.
“We will continue to work with the Government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.”
The refusal to back the agreement means that Johnson could be forced to abandon his plans to hold a so-called “meaningful vote” on his deal in planned extraordinary meeting of the UK parliament on Saturday.
The prime minister had intended to bring forward the vote in order to prevent legislation kicking in that will force him to request a three month delay to Brexit.
Under the terms of a law passed by members of Parliament last month, Johnson must write to the EU by October 19 if he has failed to secure the agreement of Parliament for a deal.
A senior government source said on Wednesday that there remained several “thorny” issues preventing a deal taking place.
“There are still thorny issues and they all interact with each other,” the source said.
Johnson may still attempt to strike a deal with the EU on Thursday and hope to bounce the DUP and opposition parties into backing a deal.
The deal so far has the tentative support of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs who voted against former Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU. Johnson is also expected to threaten MPs in his party with expulsion if they vote against the deal.
However, without a further breakthrough in talks with the DUP on Thursday, European leaders are likely to open discussions later today on the subject of extending Britain’s current Brexit deadline of October 31.