Raab: Boris Would Extend Arm of Friendship, But No-Deal Brexit Will Be Brussels’ Fault

Conservative leadership contender Boris Johnson leaves after giving a radio interview in central London on June 25, 2019. - Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, has acknowledged that London would need cooperation from the European Union to cushion potential shocks in the event of a …
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Dominic Raab, a Brexiteer and supporter of Boris Johnson’s campaign to become the UK’s next prime minister, has said that if Britain leaves the European Union on no-deal terms, it will have been the EU’s choice.

Speaking to the BBC Wednesday morning, former Brexit secretary Mr Raab said a Boris Johnson-led government would extend the “arm of friendship” to the European Union during last-minute attempts to negotiate a deal. But ultimately, if European political leaders in Brussels did not want to reciprocate and work constructively, the country would be forced to leave the European Union without a deal on October 31st as planned, he warned.

Mr Raab said the UK government’s willingness to take extensions rather than hard decisions on Brexit in the past had eviscerated the nation’s negotiating strength with Europe because “the EU has every reason to delay”. The Boris Johnson supporter said the government’s negotiators had been naive before and this had invited the EU to “double down” but his pick for leader — presently subject to an election by Conservative Party members due to be resolved next month — would turn the situation around.

While a Johnson government would make a “reasonable attempt to bridge the gap” with the European Union, Raab warned it required willingness on the other side of the Channel to make a withdrawal work. He said:

“…there’s nothing stopping us getting a deal by October if there’s the political will. And frankly all of this pushback from the EU, let’s see whether it survives once we’ve got a prime minister in place — if we end up on WTO terms, it will be the EU’s choice… legally it could be done, but the question is whether there’s political will.

“Ultimately, if the EU throws up its hands and say ‘we’re not going to budge’, they refuse all reasonable compromise and we end up on WTO terms, that would be a decision made by the EU. Boris is right to say we’ll go back, we’ll continue to keep the arm of friendship extended, but ultimately we must give businesses in this country and people in this country the finality that we’ll be out in October.”

The remarks essentially throw down a gauntlet to the European Union, by making clear the United Kingdom would be willing to keep working and it is now down to Europe to cooperate or force Britain out without a deal which Brussels has repeatedly said it wishes to avoid.

When Mr Johnson launched his leadership campaign, he told supporters he does not want a no-deal Brexit — otherwise known as a full, no strings attached withdrawal — but said he would take the country out of the EU whatever happened by October 31st, placing the emphasis on the European Union to negotiate a new deal.

Challenged on the possibility of Britain’s Parliament — which is presently dominated by Remain-supporting members — opposing Johnson’s plan, Raab said it remained the case that leaving on October 31st remained the legal default and a vote by Parliament would have “zero legal effect”.

Also featuring was the suggestion of an early challenge against Johnson’s leadership should he become prime minister and then try to deliver Brexit by rebel Remainers within the party. Raab said this would make Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn leader, and that “vanishingly few” MPs would consider going down that route.

Raab’s comments follow others by Boris Johnson himself, who took to the airwaves Monday as part of his leadership campaign to say he would take Britain out of the European Union “do or die”. He also made remarks, echoed by Raab Tuesday, that the ball was in Europe’s court and that the UK would not impose tariffs after Brexit.

Despite Johnson’s tough words on Brexit, there remains significant doubt over whether he would be so decisive once in office. Brexit leader Nigel Farage told Breitbart London that Boris would have to be “brave” and “Churchillian” over Brexit, otherwise he and The Brexit Party would become the prime minister’s “worst enemy”.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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