Nobody saw that coming.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won office by taking a hard line on Brexit, vowing to honor the popular vote to leave the EU, and promising to meet the October 31 deadline with or without a deal. Then, with no deal in hand, he postponed Parliament, forcing both sides to take a stand and putting his office in jeopardy.
Then just this week his negotiators struck a deal with their EU counterparts, and now the EU has approved the deal, which leaves just one more step.
British Parliament must vote on Saturday to approve the deal.
Three years of turmoil come down to one vote less than two weeks before the deadline. But there are problems.
Johnson has no majority in Parliament, and opponents are plotting maximum political damage ahead of an imminent election.
The numbers are too close to call: Johnson must garner 318 votes in the 650-seat parliament to get a deal approved. Yet his Northern Irish allies are opposed to a deal and the three main opposition parties have pledged to vote it down.
“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday.”
The stakes are huge.
If he wins the vote, Johnson will go down in history as the leader who delivered Brexit – for good or bad. If he fails, Johnson will face the humiliation of Brexit unfurling after repeatedly promising that he would get it done.
Johnson’s administration is casting the Saturday vote as a last chance to get Brexit done with lawmakers facing the option of either approving the deal or propelling the United Kingdom to a disorderly no-deal exit that could divide the West, hurt global growth and trigger violence in Northern Ireland.