Several days ago my baseline scenario changed to "deal".
Let's do the math as analyzed by Eurointelligence.
The Tories have 288 MPs. A parliamentary majority is around 320. A majority would need the support of a sufficient number of MPs from the following three groups: the 10 MPs from the DUP; the 21 former Tory MPs; and the group of Labour MPs who stand behind Stephen Kinnock’s campaign for a Brexit compromise. The latter claim to speak for up to 50 MPs, but there is a core group of around 18-20. We think that most of the 21 [former] Tory MPs will support the deal - for which they would receive their Tory whip back. We also think that at least Kinnock’s core group might support the deal.
The FT reports this morning that the DUP is asking for billions of pounds worth of support as a quid-pro-quo. But that means that they are not opposed in principle. They are just haggling over the money. If the DUP were to support it, that would probably tip the balance in favour of a deal.
Another issue for Johnson to confront is extension. There is no way, we think, that Brexit can happen by Oct 31. The Times has a story quoting German officials that the EU would take another two months until the end of the year. We think this would create renewed uncertainty, and would interfere with a UK election campaign.
We think that a one month extension, or thereabouts, seems reasonable. This would coincide with the extension of the mandate of the outgoing Juncker Commission (see our separate story below).
We also think that the extension will be part of the actual deal, and will thus supersede the Benn Brexit extension bill if the UK parliament were to find a majority in favour of the deal. If not, the Benn bill will force a three-month extension. Elections are likely in either scenario.
I propose the deal will pass with or without DUP support if the EU frames it as "take it or crash out".
Without DUP support passage will be minimal.
But with DUP support could be overwhelming.
Best Guess - Solid Passage
- I expect DUP will be bought out.
- I fully expect a free vote by Corbyn. Otherwise, Corbyn will have to expel as many as 18-22 Labor MPs who will buck the whip and have to be expelled.
- 288 Tories
- 45 Labour (assuming a free vote)
- 18 Expelled Tory Rebels (to regain the Whip)
- 10 DUP
I come up with 361 or so.
15 or even 25 here or there won't matter.
What Might Go Wrong?
- The EU or Boris Johnson might demand too much.
- Corbyn might not offer the free vote I expect.
- DUP might vehemently protest
Whereas Eurointelligence says "If the DUP were to support it, that would probably tip the balance in favour of a deal," I suggest that if DUP actively comes on board, a blowout in favor of passage is likely.
Regardless, I expect passage even if DUP does not come on board because I expect Johnson will negotiate a "this deal or no deal" framing by the EU coupled with a short extension to allow the UK and EU parliament to ratify the deal, making the Benn bill obsolete.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock