The European reaction to Boris Johnson’s plan has been getting cooler today. But in parliament it has been a different story. In response to Boris Johnson’s statement earlier, several members of the so-called Spartans—those Brexiteers who voted against Theresa May’s deal on 29 March—indicated they would support it. At the same time, a slew of ex-Tory MPs who voted for the Benn Act made clear they were happy with it too.
Frank Field urged Boris Johnson to stage a declaratory vote on this plan before he goes to the EU Council, to show European leaders that it could pass the Commons. Boris Johnson said that he would think about it but didn’t seem keen. Judging by today, though, this plan probably does command majority support in the House.
This morning, Boris Johnson told Cabinet that he was planning to adopt a tone of ‘glutinous emollience’ to both the EU and Labour MPs over the next few days. This tone was much in evidence in the chamber. He expressed disappointment, rather than anger, at Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Blackford’s outright rejection of the plan. When MPs expressed concern about specific aspects of the plan, he offered to meet them. Another thing that helped was that John Bercow has lost his voice. With the Speaker not offering a running commentary, proceedings ran far more smoothly.