Johnson: UK Is a ‘Great Country’ and Can ‘Easily Cope’ with No Deal Brexit

BIARRITZ, FRANCE - AUGUST 25: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson participates in a TV interview ahead of bilateral meetings as part of the G7 summit on August 25, 2019 in Biarritz, France. The French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz is hosting the 45th G7 summit from August 24 to 26. …
Neil Hall - Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the United Kingdom would “easily cope” with a clean, no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson made the comments during the three-day Group of Seven (G7) summit, the meeting of the leaders of seven of the world’s largest advanced economies: the UK, USA, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, and Italy.

“What I can tell people, and as I said a few weeks ago on the steps of Downing Street, [is] I think we can get through this. This is a great, great country, the UK, we can easily cope with a no-deal scenario. And I know that’s what people want,” he said at the summit in Biarritz, France, on Sunday.

The remarks came after clashing with President of the European Council Donald Tusk over Brexit, when Mr Tusk said that he “hoped” Prime Minister Johnson will not “go down in history as Mr No Deal”. However the eurocrat signalled that the EU may be open to alternatives to the controversial Irish backstop, saying: “We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all EU member states.”

Mr Johnson, who unlike his predecessor Theresa May, backed Brexit during the 2016 referendum and has been ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, after having pledged to take the UK out of the EU on October 31st, with or without a deal. However, he maintains that a deal can still be struck with the EU — one without the Irish backstop, which could lock the UK in post-Brexit regulatory alignment with bloc.

“It all depends on our EU friends and partners,” Mr Johnson told the BBC, continuing: “I think in the last few days there has been a dawning realisation in Brussels and other European capitals what the shape of the problem is for the UK.”

“I think it’s going to be touch and go but the important thing is to get ready to come out without a deal,” he added.

In addition to holding firm that the UK would not accept the soft-Brexit deal, Mr Johnson raised the issue of the £39 billion divorce bill — a sum agreed by former Prime Minister May that would be paid to the EU as part of the withdrawal agreement to see the UK through the near two-year transition period.

Speaking from Biarritz, Prime Minister Johnson said that the divorce bill would not be sent to Brussels in the event of a clean Brexit, stating: “If we come out without an agreement it is certainly true that the £39bn is no longer, strictly speaking, owed.”

“There will be very substantial sums available to our country to spend on our priorities. It’s not a threat. It’s a simple fact of reality,” he added.

While relations with European neighbours may have been chilly during the G7, they were far warmer with the UK’s closest friend and ally, the United States.

During a meeting with President Donald Trump, the American leader extolled the virtues of the British premier, saying Johnson was “the right man” to deliver Brexit — a confidence he did not share in Mrs May, who he criticised for failing to heed his advice on negotiating with the EU.

By contrast, President Trump had told media this weekend: “He [Boris Johnson] needs no advice. He’s the right man for the job, I’ve been saying that for a long time.”

Mr Johnson had added that he and President Trump were “looking forward to having some pretty comprehensive talks about how to take forward the [British-American] relationship in all sorts of ways, particularly on trade. We’re very excited about that.”

 

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