Boris Johnson's Brexit deal is the 'same deal' offered to Theresa May three years ago

Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) speaks during a news conference ahead of the European Parliament election in Budapest, Hungary, May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
Guy Verhofstadt (REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo)

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt has said there are lots of similarities between the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson and that by his predecessor, Theresa May.

Verhofstadt, who has campaigned for Britain to stay in the European Union, said the two deals - the first one offered three years ago - were almost identical.

“What we have now is the original proposal that we presented to the British three years ago,” he said on Friday.

However, he said there was one big difference ahead of the vote on Saturday in the House of Commons - time.

“Johnson only had until 19 October to present the agreement to parliament, otherwise he had to ask for a postponement,” said Verhofstadt. And unlike May, Johnson “did not take into account the DUP, the Northern Irish nationalists, he added.

Verhofstadt said the vote in the House of Commons on Saturday would be a close call.

Prime Minister Johnson has spent much of the 24 hours since securing the deal with the European Union, seeking to make sure that he has enough votes to pass it through Parliament.

Although he has lost the support of the Democratic Unionist Party, he has been able to secure the votes of several Tory “Spartans”, those who favour a no-deal, and some Labour MPs.

Conservative MP Theresa May walks through the Central Lobby toward the House of Lords to listen to the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain October 14, 2019. Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS
The same deal? Boris Johnson's deal is the same as Theresa May's, it has been claimed (REUTERS)

All predictions claim Saturday’s vote will be on a knife-edge though 24 hours before the vote, some claimed that Johnson was edging towards a tiny majority for his plan.

Verhofstadt added that he thought a no-deal Brexit was a “less likely” scenario, because the Prime Minister “realised” late that it would be bad for the UK and his own electoral chances, he said.

There have been “so many alarming signals … from society, hospitals, industry … that he realised it would be a tragedy and that, under those circumstances, he would certainly lose the elections,” he said.

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