They said it couldn’t be done, indeed many of them deliberately put roadblocks in the way, but Boris appears to have done what he promised he would anyway.

There is a Brexit deal which is far less binding on the UK than the May one and therefore a lot more like an actual Brexit and it will occur on October 31.

As Patrick O’Flynn explains in the top link above

It is truly remarkable that he has secured an agreement at all given that he was nobbled by the Benn “Surrender” Act, had other traditional prime ministerial prerogatives stripped away from him by a ruthless Remain establishment and faced the most intense and hostile media onslaught I can remember any leading figure suffering in my 25 or so years on the political scene.

It is even more remarkable that the agreement he has reached honours in almost every respect the spirit and arguments of the 2016 Leave campaign. The disgrace of a UK-wide indefinite backstop (erroneously known as the Northern Ireland backstop) locking us into EU rules in perpetuity with no release mechanism other than the EU’s permission is gone. It has been replaced by measures limited to Northern Ireland and out of which the population of Northern Ireland can vote themselves, should they so desire.

Despite May having tamely acceded to the EU’s sequencing demands, thereby chucking away most of our leverage and then creating a hung parliament where there had been a Tory majority before, Johnson has somehow hauled our country free of the morass. Control of our laws, borders and money is coming home. Our future will be as free-trading partners with the EU but on our own trajectory. There are many additional matters now to be decided by a reinvigorated national democratic process and not locked into “the closest possible relationship with the EU” (May’s stock phrase whenever anyone in Brussels asked what she actually wanted).

It is ideal? no of course not. Is it better than “No deal”? Almost certainly – in terms of panic and potential short term disruption it is streets ahead. The only question is whether, in the long term, that panic and disruptions would have been beneficial (I suspect they would have been).

Is it the best deal Britain could have hoped for?

Kind of. If we’d had a team of people like the one Boris gathered in the last couple of months starting to negotiate a couple of years ago we might have been able to get something better. But given the time pressure and the constant undermining by UK remainers it probably as good a deal as we could get in the near term.

The key to this deal is that it changes the default end-state and who gets to decide on changes. In the May deals and in various the EU offers, a “Brexit” UK was going to have to continually go back the Brussels to ask for more freedom, rather like Oliver Twist asking for more food. In the current deal Northern Ireland gets to decide if it is happy to continue in the proposed mixed state or not, in the prior deal the EU and Dublin would have had a say in that. Likewise in the prior proposals the UK was legally bound to the EU’s free trade area regulations, now that is just part of the non-binding political declaration and can therefore be changed without renegotiating the whole thing. Those are big wins and mean that this is a real Brexit not a “Brexit in name only”

This of course puts a lot of (UK) politicians in a bind. The vast majority of the current bunch of MPs were elected on manifesto promises to get a deal and then leave, even if they  personally were keen on remaining. When the choice was “delay/remain” or “no deal” it was easy to justify the former. But now Boris has a deal. He has quite a lot of MPs supporting it (and a lot more not dismissing it out of hand the way the May deal was because it was clearly unacceptable to everyone). If they vote against this deal and bring it down they are going to find their opponents in the general election which has to come shortly after this will remind their constituents of this broken promise. The EU has also made it fairly clear that they will not be granting an additional extension to the article 50 process

… commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who told Sky News very clearly that there was no need for a prolongation.

Mr Juncker went on: “[Mr Johnson] and myself don’t think it’s possible to give another prolongation.”

So if this deal does not pass then, no matter what die hard remainers want, there will be a No deal Brexit on October 31. Thus the choice before MPs is pretty much “this deal or no deal” and in either case Brexit on October 31.

To add to the pressure, in what I suspect is in part at least a “Br’er Rabbit Briar Patch” statement Nigel Farage has rejected the deal as unacceptable and notably some of his Brexit party colleagues disagree. But his rejection means that Remainers are put in the extremely uncomfortable position of agreeing with him (which is kind of like the Pope allying with Satan) if they vote against this deal. Moreover at this point they are the ones who will be blamed for No deal chaos if the deal is not passed. Given that they scaremongered all sorts of doom for No deal if they then vote for no deal they are going to be the ones who have to explain why no deal won’t be as catastrophic as they claimed it would be just days earlier.

We won’t know how this plays out until the vote takes place in Parliament but it looks like a combination of carrots, sticks and close reading of the opinion polls will get enough MPs to vote for the deal. If so then Boris should surely enter the history books as a supreme dealmaster.

However, when we toast his success on October 31, we should not forget the other person responsible for this – Nigel Farage. If Farage hadn’t driven UKIP the way he did prior to the referendum there would have been no referendum and if he hadn’t returned to politics to create the Brexit party Boris would never have been able to become leader or get this deal. It seems very clear to me that Boris has benefited enormously from having Farage as a bogeyman to scare the wobbly. Indeed I’m sure he’ll be used in the next 24 hours or so as Boris and his allies get the votes they need for the vote in Parliament.

Update: via Guido it seems that the electorate agrees this is the best option