Brexit Deal: What are the Parliamentary Numbers?


As we head into the final negotiations, what are the odds a deal passes?

Parliamentary Math

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.

Nearly Correct

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


  1. I expect DUP will be bought out.
  2. 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.

My Math

  • 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

Comments (24)
No. 1-5
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Deep Purple

The NI-only backstop is a life-or-death issue for the DUP. It leads to an economically united Ireland separated from the UK in regulation and customs regime. They might get a few subsidies and a lot of bureaucratic mishmash in exchange. Any support from them is total sellout.

By the way, the case is very similar for several Tory MPs. They are supposed to be conservative AND unionist. What about Scottish Tories? Would they support a deal that opens the gate to secession? What about the ERG? Would they all support a deal that gives away a part of the UK? This is all very-very shaky. Not to mention Labour MPs...

Meanwhile, LibDems will go for a referendum amendment and it has a similar chance of going through.


There are a few people who know what the deal is. Until it is published no one knows how any vote would pan out. All we do know is that the UK is likely to remain in the EU 'til 2020, and that isn't certain.


The key point is for the EU to frame an agreed deal as "deal or crash out". Boris would be cock-a-hoop either way whereas Corbyn would get absolutely slaughtered by party and the ballot box if he could be held to account for a no deal rather than a "Tory" deal.

We will still be leaving on 31st October.

I expect the deal to come on the basis of we leave formally, but nothing changes for a period of 3 months while the final details are sorted. A sort of pre-transition period, for want of a better name. We continue to pay a modest contribution, border arrangements remain unchanged but we are free to get on with deals for life outside. It's too critical to Boris's electoral chances and his legacy to have any sort of stay-in extension, even for only a month.

If at the end of the 3 months with one foot in, one foot out there is no satisfactory concord meeting the needs of all parties (including consent by the new European parliament, don't forget), either side will be able to walk away and a no deal will ensue.

We're still going this month. Mark my words.



Well the headline at CNBC says WE HAVE A DEAL, Barnier is behind it and it is set to be ratified this week there. But, all but the conservatives and the DUP say they will not allow it to become law, and this should be interesting since they are the ones that have sunk all attempts at getting any deal, now they will be presented with a deal they like even less than May's. But, it is this deal to leave or a no deal Brexit because Junker has as much as said the UK parliament better get behind it; there will be no extension. It will be presented to the UK parliament this weekend for ratification. And it will be too priceless to see the remainers shitting themselves because what it really means is that the UK will be out of the EU no matter what. If they refuse to ratify the deal then there will be a no deal Brexit that they will be blamed for and they know it. If they do ratify then they have to leave the EU on the 31st and again any blame will attach to the remainers since it was they who dragged it out to the very last minute and ratified a bad deal because it was all that was left that close to the deadline. Nigel Farage is dead set against it saying it is worse than May's deal. But, it is the hardliners leave and remain, as well as the EU that made this deal what it is. This could have been over with more than two years ago with as good or better deal so the recriminations are going to be palpable.

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