Johnson’s coalition partner, the Democratic Unionist Party, has said it will not back the deal, which means it will have a very hard time passing the House. James Blitz reports in the FT:
James Forsyth in The Spectator has a good assessment of where the problem lies. He says Mark Spencer, the Conservative chief whip, calculated last night that if the DUP backs Mr Johnson, the government will win on Saturday with a majority of just one.
That majority would be made up of all Tory MPs, 15 independent Conservatives, the DUP plus nine Labour rebels in Leave constituencies who would be defying their own party whip.
But without the DUP, Mr Johnson needs 19 Labour MPs to back him. My FT colleague Jim Pickard says that getting that many Labour MPs to back a Johnson deal would be very hard indeed.
How could the dynamics change in the next 48 hours? One possibility, which Downing Street is actively pursuing, is that the European Council should declare tonight that if the deal doesn’t go through it won’t give the UK the three-month extension demanded by the Benn Act.
If the EU did that, it would mean that failure to pass the vote on Saturday would plunge the UK into a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
That would certainly concentrate minds at Westminster. It might push the DUP over the line, as well as attracting more Labour MPs towards the Johnson deal. But this would be an extraordinarily high-risk strategy for the EU to adopt. I find it hard to believe it would go down that road.
Read more here.