‘Be in no doubt the alternative is No Deal’: Boris Johnson sends stark message to Brussels to accept his ‘constructive and reasonable’ Brexit plan saying there must NOT be any more delay
- In his first Tory conference speech as leader, Boris Johnson has heralded his take-it-or-leave-it offer to the EU
- PM urged ‘compromise’ for NI to follow EU single market rules but customs checks on island of Ireland
- If the EU refuses to negotiate on the basis of the plan, Britain will leave without agreement, Mr Johnson said
- Mr Johnson has vowed he will not ask for a Brexit delay beyond Halloween at crunch EU summit on October 17
- Rebel law obliges him to beg Brussels for an extension if no agreement has been reached by October 19
- Downing Street source warned that Brussels should not try to bypass Mr Johnson to negotiate with MPs
Boris Johnson warned there must be no more Brexit delay today as he urged the EU to ‘compromise’ in his big speech to Tory activists.
Addressing party conference for the first time as PM, Mr Johnson gave an upbeat assessment of the UK’s prospects, saying there were ‘so many reasons to be confident’ about the future.
But he lambasted MPs who have been blocking his Brexit strategy, describing Parliament as a ‘pebble in the shoe’ of the nation. ‘If it was a school it would have been shut down by Ofsted,’ he swiped.
Mr Johnson again made clear that he will not beg Brussels for an extension – suggesting they must choose between his new ‘compromise’ plan and No Deal.
‘What Leavers want, what Remainers want, what the whole world wants – is to be calmly and sensibly done with the subject, and to move on,’ he said.
‘And that is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may.’
He warned that delay would be ‘pointless and expensive’. ‘Whatever happens we must come out by the end of October,’ he said.
Describing his proposals as ‘constructive and reasonable’, he warned: ‘Be in no doubt the alternative is No Deal.’
The defiant stance, watched from the audience by girlfriend Carrie Symonds, came despite Mr Johnson facing a wall of resistance from the bloc to the blueprint, which has even been formally tabled yet.
The package has been summarised as ‘two borders over four years’, and appears to mean Northern Ireland staying tied to EU rules for food and agriculture until the mid 2020s, but being outside the customs union.
That would require customs checks on the island of Ireland and regulatory checks in the Irish Sea, although technology and other schemes would be used to minimise friction.
Mr Johnson denied there will be checks ‘at or near the border’, saying the government will respect the Good Friday Agreement. ‘I love Europe. But after 45 years of really dramatic constitutional change we must have a new relationship,’ he said.
EU diplomats have accused Mr Johnson of adopting ‘kamikaze’ tactics, and said the chances of a deal emerging now appeared to be ‘zero’.
Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney suggested any proposal that includes customs checks cannot be the ‘basis for an agreement’.
However, DUP leader Arlene Foster urged Brussels to take the ideas seriously, saying the backstop had always been the ‘big stumbling block’ and needed to be ‘fixed’.
Addressing party conference for the first time as PM, Mr Johnson again made clear that he will not beg Brussels for an extension – saying they must choose between his new ‘compromise’ plan and No Deal
The defiant speech by Mr Johnson was watched from the audience by girlfriend Carrie Symonds (pictured )
Mr Johnson was given a rapturous reception by activists and colleagues including Chancellor Sajid Javid (left) and Priti Patel (second from left)
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured in Brussels today) is regarded by the UK government as one of the main obstacles to a Brexit deal
In a speech that delighted the Tory faithful, Mr Johnson contrasted his clear stance with that of Jeremy Corbyn, warning that Labour would drag the crisis out for another three years by trying to renegotiate and hold another national vote on whether to leave.
He said Mr Corbyn would bring the ‘chaos and cacophony of two more referendums’ – on Scottish independence and Brexit.
‘Can you imagine – another 3 years of this? But that is the Corbyn agenda – stay in the EU beyond October 31, and paying a billion pounds a month for the privilege, followed by years of uncertainty for business and everyone else.’
Mr Johnson raged about Parliament’s decision to pass the rebel law intended to ban No Deal, saying: ‘There is one part of the British system that seems to be on the blink.
‘If parliament were a laptop, then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom. If parliament were a school, Ofsted would be shutting it down.
‘If parliament were a reality TV show the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now
‘But at least we could have watched the speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle
‘And the sad truth is that voters have more say over I’m a celebrity than they do over this House of Commons.
‘Which refuses to deliver Brexit, refuses to do anything constructive and refuses to have an election.’
Stepping up his stinging attack on the establishment for blocking the verdict of the public in the 2016 referendum, Mr Johnson said: ‘I am afraid that after three and a half years people are beginning to feel that they are being taken for fools,’ he said.
‘They are beginning to suspect that there are forces in this country that simply don’t want brexit delivered at all.
‘And if they turn out to be right in that suspicion then I believe there will be grave consequences for trust in democracy.’
But the leak of details of Mr Johnson’s plan to the Daily Telegraph has already fuelled tensions with Dublin, with UK officials convinced it was responsible for exposing the documents before the conference speech.
In effect, the proposals would leave Northern Ireland tied to single market rules on food and agriculture for four years from the end of the transition period in January 2021.
However, the plans are facing criticism for putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk and requiring the EU to grant sweeping customs exemptions.
What happens next in the Brexit crisis?
Here is how the coming weeks could pan out:
Today 29: Boris Johnson is due to give his first keynote speech as leader on the final day of Tory conference.
Letter setting out the UK’s new Brexit proposals set to be sent to the EU.
October 17-18: A crunch EU summit in Brussels, where Mr Johnson has vowed he will try to get a Brexit deal despite Remainers ‘wrecking’ his negotiating position.
October 19: If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal.
Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will only let Mr Johnson trigger an election after an extension has been secured.
If there is a deal, it will start being rushed through Parliament immediately.
October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU.
November/December: An election looks inevitable, but Labour is hinting it might push the date back towards Christmas to humiliate the PM further.
After 2025, the Stormont assembly would be free to choose whether to stick to EU single market rules or follow British ones.
A senior government source said Britain would leave the EU on October 31 without agreement if Brussels did not ‘engage’.
This is despite MPs passing a law that obliges the PM to beg Brussels for an extension if an agreement has not been reached by October 19.
The source added: ‘It is take it or leave it. Officials have made clear that if Brussels does not engage with this offer, then this Government will not negotiate further until we have left the EU.’
Officials also made clear the Prime Minister will ‘in no circumstances’ negotiate a delay at the crunch EU summit on October 17 and 18.
A No10 source warned that Brussels should not try to bypass the Prime Minister and try to negotiate directly with MPs – a majority of whom are desperate to avoid No Deal.
‘The EU is obliged by EU law only to negotiate with member state governments, they cannot negotiate with Parliament,’ said the insider.
David Frost, who is Mr Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, will deliver details of the blueprint to Brussels today.
The Government hopes that the EU will agree to enter the ‘tunnel’ – code for intensive, secret negotiations aimed at finding a compromise.
But Mr Johnson has faced a backlash after confirming for the first time that his plan will involve customs checks on the island of Ireland.
Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney said today: ‘Certainly, from what we’re reading this morning, I would not be too encouraged by it.
‘Essentially if he is proposing customs checks on the island of Ireland, then I don’t think that is going to be the basis of an agreement. But let’s wait and see the detail of that before we make a full judgment on it.’
Incoming EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said another delay was now more likely than a deal.
However, Brussels is rumoured to be considering putting a time limit on the backstop – a concession it had ruled previously out during talks with Mrs May.
The move could provide a way out of the increasingly bitter deadlock.
One of the main objections from Brexiteers and the DUP to the previous plan was that the UK could be trapped indefinitely with the EU customs union and single market rules, making it impossible to strike trade deals elsewhere.
‘We’ll look at anything, of course,’ Mr Johnson told The Sun.
In media interviews yesterday, Mr Johnson said the chances of a deal were still very good, provided the EU showed ‘common sense’.
The Prime Minister (pictured left arriving at Tory conference today) will say he is proposing a ‘fair and reasonable compromise’ including customs checks on the island of Ireland. His girlfriend Carrie Symonds is also at conference
Tory activists were queuing to get into the conference centre in Manchester hours before the PM’s speech today
If the EU refuses to negotiate, Britain will leave without agreement, according to a senior government source. Pictured: Mr Johnson on Tuesday
Under the new plan, the two sides would agree an all-Ireland food and agriculture zone to allow livestock and food to continue moving freely across the border.
Senior government sources believe much will hang on whether Angela Merkel (pictured in Berlin yesterday) ‘comes out fighting’ for a compromise deal
Mr Johnson will suggest the plan could be extended to cover industrial goods, provided the Northern Ireland Assembly agreed.
The entire UK would leave the customs union, meaning that customs checks would be needed on goods crossing the border.
But these would be carried out away from the border in order to reduce the risk of tensions.
Delaying Brexit past Halloween would NOT kill the Tories at election, PM’s allies claim
Boris Johnson could ride out a Brexit extension without suffering serious political damage in the wake of his clashes with Remainer MPs and the Supreme Court, allies believe.
There is growing confidence Prime Minister can avoid being put to the sword by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party if he cannot honour his ‘do or die’ pledge for the UK to leave by October 31.
Cabinet ministers are convinced the public would recognise that Mr Johnson has been ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ by pro-EU MPs and Speaker John Bercow, MailOnline understands.
Remainer rebels have forced through a law obliging him to ask for the deadline to be pushed back if no agreement has been reached by October 19.
However, there is a growing optimism within senior Tory ranks that Mr Johnson can survive the political fallout from being in power when the deadline is extended.
One Cabinet minister told MailOnline that the public would blame Remainer MPs and Mr Bercow, as it was obvious that Mr Johnson had been ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ towards an extension.
‘It would be surrender, betrayal, treason against 17.4m people who voted for Brexit at the referendum,’ they said.
‘But it would be Remainer MPs and John Bercow to blame.
‘It would not necessarily kill us at an election.
‘People will know Boris was dragged kicking and screaming.’
The rest of the agreement negotiated by Theresa May would stay in place, including the £39billion divorce bill and an ‘implementation period’ until the start of 2021.
Mr Johnson urged Ireland yesterday to recognise the ‘reality’ that customs checks will be needed on the island after Brexit, and the ‘status quo’ could not be maintained completely.
He also delivered a thinly-veiled threat to disrupt the EU from within if his ‘do or die’ Brexit deadline of Halloween is delayed.
He said if Britain was ‘held against its will’ they would face a ‘very unhappy and unfortunate’ situation.
But Irish PM Leo Varadkar said: ‘People here don’t want a customs border between north and south and no British government should seek to impose customs posts against the will of the people on the island of Ireland.’
The senior EU diplomat said: ‘The kamikaze way this is now being dealt with by the UK Government is not something we’ve chosen.’
Both sides are now bracing for a frantic 10-day push to find a settlement in time for the EU summit.
Despite the tough rhetoric on refusing to countenance an extension, senior Tories increasingly believe Mr Johnson could ride out a Brexit extension without suffering catastrophic political damage.
Some MPs thought he would have to resign rather than break the rebel law or see his ‘do or die’ vow broken.
However, one Cabinet minister told MailOnline that the public would blame Remainer MPs and Speaker John Bercow.
‘It would be surrender, betrayal, treason against 17.4m people who voted for Brexit at the referendum,’ they said.
‘But it would be Remainer MPs and John Bercow to blame. It would not necessarily kill us at an election. People will know Boris was dragged kicking and screaming.’
Downing Street has denied reports that Mr Johnson is planning to prorogue Parliament again next week to pave the way for a Queen’s Speech.
Source: Read Full Article