BORIS Johnson thinks he can whittle down the number of Brexiteer Tory rebels to just eight, boosting his chances of winning a Commons vote.
The PM has to put any new compromise deal he can bring back from Brussels to Parliament before it becomes law.
It also emerged tonight that Europe’s leaders may insist Mr Johnson puts the template of a new agreement to MPs before the crunch EU summit on October 17 to prove he can command support.
A total of 28 Brexiteer Tory MPs refused to back Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement for a third time on March 29.
But Chief Whip Mark Spencer has told the PM that if he can win “meaningful changes” to the Irish backstop, he can squeeze the refuseniks down to “between eight and ten”.
No10 has now made it clear that any Tory MP who votes against a new deal will face the same fate as the 21 Remainer Tories who were expelled for voting to delay Brexit.
A source from the Tory whip’s office said: “Mark is confident he can keep the rebellion in single figures. They don’t have anywhere else to go. Boris is Brexit’s only hope.”
The European Research Group of hardline Brexiteer Tory MPs recently threatened to vote down any new deal that is still based on the Withdrawal Agreement.
Some ERG members have said they may have to buckle but their chairman Steve Baker said: “If the deal is so bad I have to vote against it, I won’t be concerned by the loss of the Conservative whip because the party will be in its death throes.”
EU diplomats said on Sunday night they would like Mr Johnson to demonstrate a show of force for his plan before leaders of the 27 member states agree to it at the mid-October summit.
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