Conservative Election Manifesto Will Drop ‘Threat’ of No-Deal Brexit, Boris Blocks Farage Pact

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing street in London on October 30, 2019 to take part in Prime Minister Question (PMQ) session in the House of Commons. - Britain's political leaders tested their election pitches today after parliament backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bid for a pre-Christmas poll …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to drop the ‘threat’ of a no-deal Brexit from the Conservative Party’s election manifesto to woo centrist voters and soft-Brexit supporters.

The manifesto, which the party is set to publish in a fortnight, will instead push that the next Tory government will focus on “getting Brexit done immediately” by passing the EU-approved withdrawal treaty through Parliament if it wins a majority in the December 12th election, according to The Times.

Nicky Morgan, the outgoing culture secretary, told the newspaper of record: “If you vote Conservative at this election, you’re voting to leave with this deal, and no-deal has effectively been taken off the table.”

The Tories hope that ruling out a clean-break Brexit will attract centrist voters and those who usually vote Liberal Democrat but who have been isolated by the party’s recent hard anti-Brexit stance. The Lib Dems have vowed that if they take power in government, they will altogether cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 (the legal mechanism for leaving the EU).

Prime Minister Johnson told ITV News on Friday: “Our opportunity now is to get this thing done, come back in the middle of December, knock it over the line and then take the country forward.”

The move is a softening of Mr Johnson’s previous “do or die” stance when he pledged to take the UK out of the EU on October 31st “with or without a deal”.

However, the Remainer-dominated Parliament passed a law forcing the prime minister to request an extension of Article 50 if a deal had not been adopted by October 19th. After the EU granted a “flextension” to January 31st, 2020, the prime minister called for an election on the grounds that the present Parliament would continue to frustrate and even stop Brexit.

But despite his earlier pledges to deliver a clean-break Brexit if necessary, The Guardian had reported on October 9th that he had told the so-called centrist ‘One Nation’ Tories that a no-deal pledge would not be in the election manifesto.

The left-wing newspaper also reported the prime minister to have said that he would not agree to a pact with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, a point he asserted publicly in an interview with the BBC last night.

Speaking to political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said: “The difficulty about doing deals with any other party is that… voting for any other party simply risks putting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10.”

Explicitly asked whether “there are no circumstances under which you would work with Nigel Farage”, the prime minister said: “I was very very clear that voting for any other party than this One-Nation Conservative government is basically tantamount to putting Jeremy Corbyn in.”

The comments come after Mr Farage had, again, offered a strategic election pact with the Conservatives, where they would stand down from contesting in each other’s strongholds to avoid splitting the Brexit vote and handing a victory to a Remain party like Labour or the Liberal Democrats.

“I believe the only way to solve this is to build a ‘leave’ alliance across this country,” Mr Farage said on Friday during the Brexit Party’s election campaign launch. “If it was done, Boris Johnson would win a very big majority.”

He said that if the prime minister rejects the offer, “we will contest every single seat in England, Scotland, and Wales”.

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