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After months of negotiation, weeks of speculation and three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, a Brexit deal may finally make it through parliament this week. Johnson returned from negotiations with a new deal that he will try and pass in a rare Saturday sitting of parliament. Yet for all the progress that has been made this week, the fate of the deal still very much hangs in the balance.

Queen's Speech

With all the drama that has occurred since, you could be forgiven for forgetting that this week saw the first (and possibly last) Queen's Speech of the Johnson government. With the PM knowing that his lack of a Commons majority means it is nigh on impossible for him to pass his legislative agenda, Johnson instead announced a set of pre-election goodies, designed to show the electorate what a future Conservative majority government would implement.

Policies published to tempt voters to back the Tories included a reorganisation of the rail franchise system (for those home counties voters tempted by the Lib Dems), a new NHS investigations body and a series of "tough on crime" measures such as ending automatic half term release for serious and violent criminals.

There were also proposals announced regarding social care, with the government committing to consulting on a two percent precept that will enable councils to access a further £500m to enable "dignity in old age".

A deal is struck

After positive signs from Johnson's meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last weekend, the "tunnel" negotiations concerning the infamous Northern Irish backstop finally concluded on Thursday after days of speculation. The new deal, which completely removes the backstop from the withdrawal agreement, strikes a complicated balance between Britain being able to strike independent trade deals and respecting the Good Friday agreement.

The deal means the whole of the UK will leave the customs union, but Northern Ireland will still abide by some EU customs rules, meaning goods traveling from Britain into Northern Ireland will be subjected to EU customs. The new deal means that while Northern Ireland is legally in the same customs territory as the rest of the UK, the reality is that Northern Ireland would be treated as if it was part of the EU customs union. There would be certain exceptions for goods bound for Northern Ireland that are not expected to be transferred onwards to Britain or the EU.

The prime minister held a victorious press conference following the unveiling of the deal, hailing it as "very good for the EU and the UK". Jean Claude Junker described it as a "fair and balanced agreement", and both sides have gone into overdrive trying to sell the deal to MPs.

Few thought that Johnson would be able to negotiate a deal before 31 October, including former leadership rival Jeremy Hunt who tweeted "fair play" to the PM. However, as Theresa May found out it is one thing to negotiate a deal with the EU and another thing to secure parliamentary approval.

Come on Arlene

With Northern Ireland the focal point of the new deal, the opposition of Johnson's confidence and supply partners the DUP does not bode well for the fate of the deal in parliament.

The DUP are primarily opposed to the consent part of the deal, as they would not be able to unilaterally veto the customs proposals in the Northern Irish Assembly. Instead if a numerical majority voted to keep the arrangements in place, they would be kept for four more years, with a cross-party vote of approval keeping the proposals for eight years. The DUP are concerned that Irish Republican parties would be able to keep the proposals against the will of many unionists, something the DUP says contravenes the Good Friday agreement.

In order to achieve his new deal with the EU, Johnson was forced to accept that customs checks will be made when goods certain enter Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. By putting in place the very measures that have allowed a deal to be struck, Johnson has simultaneously alienated the DUP to such a degree that it is now impossible for him to secure their vital votes.

What has been made clear this week is that Johnson has prioritised getting a deal, the only way to leave on his 31 October deadline, ahead of his confidence and supply partners the DUP. It appears that Johnson has calculated that whether this deal is passed or not, an election is in the pipeline which could eliminate the Conservatives' need to rely on the DUP at all.

However the chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), Steve Baker, stated on Wednesday night that many ERG members, especially those who voted against May's deal three times, dubbed the "Spartans", would follow the lead of the DUP in assessing whether the deal is acceptable for the union. If many ERG members do so, it will be extremely hard for the deal to pass, and will force the PM to go looking for a great deal more Labour votes than he would wish to.

Weekend working

For the first time since the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982, parliament will sit on a Saturday as MPs debate and vote on the new Brexit deal. In order to get his deal passed, Johnson is pulling out all the stops, including potentially offering to restore the whip to the 21 Conservative MPs who were kicked out of the party for voting for the Benn Act.

Likewise, the PM is trying to get Labour MPs from Brexit supporting areas on board with the Sun speculating that a "bumper worker's rights package" is likely to be announced to secure their support. With Jeremy Corbyn whipping his MPs to oppose the deal, describing it as a "race to the bottom" on workers' rights, there will be immense pressure on those Labour MPs targeted by Johnson to hold the line and to not let the PM to declare a Brexit victory. Those to watch include Dan Jarvis and Caroline Flint who have previously stated they would vote for a deal as the best way to avoid no-deal and a second referendum which their Brexit backing constituents oppose.

While the result of Saturday's meaningful vote is uncertain, indications are that it is likely to be very close. The Tory Spartans and rebel Labour MPs will therefore decide the fate of the deal, and developments will be worth watching over the next 24 hours.