BoJo Calls to Reject Backstop and Brexit Delay, Keep No Deal on the Table

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Boris Johnson speaks at a Conservative home fringe meeting on day three of the Conservative Party Conference on October 2, 2018 in Birmingham, England. The former Foreign Secretary makes his Brexit speech to the Conservative Home fringe meeting audience today. This is seen as a …
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VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Brexiteer and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has called on the government to whip Tory MPs into keeping open the option of a clean Brexit and to reject a delay to Brexit in House of Commons votes this week.

“It would be preposterous to take the option of No Deal off the table,” Mr Johnson wrote in a column for The Telegraph Sunday night, adding, “If indeed that option is put to Parliament this week, the government must obviously whip against it, and the same goes for the absurd idea of extending Article 50.”

Adding that he would not be voting in support of Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal on Tuesday, the former foreign secretary warned that “Under the terms of this Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will be effectively obliged to remain part of the customs union of the EU.”

The House of Commons is set to vote for a second time on Mrs May’s soft Withdrawal Agreement, the prime minister losing the vote a first time in January by a record-breaking defeat of 230 votes.

The lower house has since backed Mrs May returning to Brussels to negotiate concessions on the Irish backstop — specifically, a legally-binding unilateral exit mechanism to stop Northern Ireland being locked in regulatory alignment with the EU — but in so failing to do so before Tuesday’s vote, it is anticipated that the prime minister will lose again by a speculated 100 votes.

In order to prevent mass resignations of Remainer Cabinet ministers, May had conceded ground in February by offering MPs a vote on whether to take no deal off the table and extend Brexit should her vote fail for a second time — going back on her word that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th and that No Deal remained the default legal position if a deal is not agreed.

Warning that to take a World Trade Organization (WTO) exit off the table and of delaying Article 50, Mr Johnson said, “We all know how EU negotiations work. They go to the wire. The real compromises are only made at the very end. It is important that there is to be a summit of EU leaders on March 21. That is why it is so vital that we do nothing further to weaken the UK’s position.”

Mr Johnson’s call to keep no-deal on the table comes as a ComRes poll found that 44 per cent of Britons agreed with the statement, “No Deal is better than May’s deal,” with only 30 per cent disagreeing. Another 25 per cent said they did not know either way.

Economists for Free Trade have said this week that the UK’s economy would be boosted by £140 billion over 15 years under a WTO exit, thanks to leaving the EU’s tariff wall Customs Union and the UK being free to agree her own bilateral trade deals with large economies like the U.S.

Mr Johnson also expressed that the EU’s treatment of the UK during the past 46 years has been “a condescension that borders on contempt,” but in part blamed the UK for failing to robustly defend her position, writing, “the mantra in Brussels has been that Britain objects, Britain protests – but in the end Britain always signs up.”

It appears to be a position held by Remainers within the UK’s political circles, as well, with The Telegraph reporting that former Prime Minister Tony Blair had briefed against the interests of the UK by allegedly telling French President Emmanuel Macron “hold firm” and not offer the UK any concessions, “and then we’ll end up staying.”

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