After months of tortured negotiations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did what few thought he could (or even wanted) to do, and negotiated a Brexit deal.
As European leaders gathered for an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Johnson and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced a breakthrough. “Where there’s a will, there’s a deal,” Juncker said on Twitter, while Johnson hailed an “excellent” pact.
“The extraction having been done, the building now begins,” Johnson told reporters shortly afterwards, before tucking into a roast veal dinner with the remaining 27 EU leaders.
The agreement replaces former PM Theresa May’s derided backstop mechanism with a solution that she dismissed long ago — putting a customs border in the Irish sea, and maintaining some EU regulations in Northern Ireland, but not in the rest of the UK.
It was instantly attacked by opposition MPs but promoted by Johnson’s allies, who lauded their leader for doing what was once considered impossible.
But that was the easy part.
Now, Johnson faces the fight of his political life to raise support for the deal in Parliament. And he only has one day in which to do it, before a historic sitting on Saturday in which the next phase of Brexit will be decided.
With a razor-tight margin expected, every vote will count. So prepare for a frenzied day in Westminster, as the Prime Minister gets back from Brussels and attempts to drum up support for his plan.