Mark Francois hints at number of ERG Brexiteers who will vote for Boris Johnson's deal

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16 жовтня 2019 09:40

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Speaking to Sky News, the co-chair of the ERG group of Conservative backbenchers claimed the number of Brexiteers voting for a potential Boris Johnson's Brexit deal could be similar to the number of ERG members who voted for the Brady amendment to Theresa May's deal. In January, 317 MPs voted in favour of the amendment that dictated the Government asked to renegotiate the controversial backstop protocol with the EU. It marked the first and only time any Brexit provision reached a majority in the Commons.

Almost every ERG member with the exception of three MPs voted for the proposal and Mark Francois hinted the numbers could look very similar when the Prime Minister will put his deal before the Commons this week.He said: “The ERG is not a Stalinist organisation, we’re a group of colleagues.“The offices will give a lead but then we will debate it and it’s up to every individual Member of Parliament to look into their conscience and decide what’s best for their country.“As a former chief whip, I’ve learned never to discuss numbers on television.“But if I can give you a previous example, when there was a vote on the Brady amendment on the 29th of January - which was essentially to remove the backstop - that passed the House and it’s the only thing that’s ever gone through in this context, the whole of the ERG bar three voted for that because the offices recommended it.”READ MORE: 37 British MEPs ‘go behind Boris’ back’ to demand Brexit extension

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But Mr Francois added that it is not guaranteed that the pro-Brexit group of Conservatives and MPs from Northern Ireland's DUP would vote the same way on any Brexit deal.He said: ”The ERG and the DUP have always been firm allies all the way through this process."It's not axiomatic that we would automatically vote the same way as them but particularly as these arrangements have strong implications for Northern Ireland, we would give very strong weight to whatever the DUP say."It comes as Brexit negotiations continue on a final day of efforts to get a deal ready for a crucial EU summit after Tuesday's talks ran into the small hours of the morning.Boris Johnson is running out of time to get an agreement in place so it can be approved by European leaders at the Brussels summit starting on Thursday.A Number 10 source said progress was still being made in the talks, which ran to about 1.30am in the Belgian capital and will resume on Wednesday morning.

Reports had suggested a deal was close ahead of a midnight deadline imposed by the EU, with the Prime Minister said to be making major concessions on the Irish border.But sources on both sides of the Channel downplayed the suggestions, and the PM's official spokesman said: "Talks remain constructive but there is more work still to do."The Prime Minister is expected to update his Cabinet on progress in the negotiations on Wednesday afternoon.A Downing Street source said: "Constructive talks, worked into the night, continue to make progress, continue in the morning."If the Prime Minister succeeded in bringing a deal home to the UK, he would then face a battle to do what Theresa May failed to do three times and get it approved by Parliament.DON'T MISS:Boris Johnson given leap of hope by Lib Dems Jo Swinson on Brexit deal [INSIGHT]EU to delay Brexit until NEXT YEAR even if Boris Johnson agrees deal [ANALYSIS]Brexit LIVE: IDS ‘explodes’ at Boris’ staff on hearing details of deal [LIVE BLOG]

ERG chairman and self-styled "Brexit hardman" Steve Baker later said he was "optimistic" that Mr Johnson's team would finalise a "tolerable deal that I will be able to vote for".But a split among the hardliners became visible over reports that Mr Johnson may agree to a border down the Irish Sea.Former environment secretary Owen Paterson said in an interview with The Sun that it was "unacceptable" that custom checks could be carried out on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader and a former ERG chair, however, thinks an agreement could be accepted by MPs, telling LBC: "I think the votes are there now for a deal."The DUP has helped prop up the Tory administration following increased funding from Mr Johnson's predecessor in Number 10 as part of a confidence and supply deal, in a £1 billion package branded as a "bribe".

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