Boris Confirms He Won’t Be Standing Down Clean-Break Brexit Preparations

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference alongside cabinet minister Michael Gove and former Labour Party MP Gisela Stuart on November 29, 2019 in London, England. Mr Johnson talked about his party's plans to solve the impasse on Brexit and answered questions …
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that his government will continue preparations for a clean-break Brexit despite intentions to pass his EU-approved Brexit deal.

The United Kingdom’s latest extension on the Article 50 negotiation period before a default “no deal” Brexit expires on January 31st, 2020, and Mr Johnson maintains that if he gains a majority in the House of Commons in next month’s snap election, he could pass his withdrawal agreement before Christmas.

Johnson’s team has been giving conflicting signals on preparations for a possible no-deal exit, with no mention of the plans in his manifesto. Days before the election document’s launch, a Treasury minister said that planning would continue if the Conservatives win in the December 12th election.

The prime minister clarified his government’s position during an interview with LBC on Friday, confirming that he saw “no reason to dismantle” no-deal preparations, as they were “thoroughly useful” in demonstrating to Brussels that the United Kindom was “in earnest” about leaving the EU.

“Many of those preparations will be extremely valuable as we come out of the EU arrangements anyway, so I think they are the right thing to have done and to keep in a state of readiness,” Prime Minister Johnson said.

The Remainer-dominated House of Commons had thwarted the prime minister’s plans for leaving the EU as planned on October 31st, with or without a deal, by passing the so-called Benn Act which forced him to ask Brussels for an extension. A new pro-Brexit parliament, he hopes, will not obstruct his plans.

However, Remainers still fear that if the Johnson government cannot secure a deal on future trading arrangements with the EU before the end of his withdrawal agreement’s transition period ending in December 2020, Britain could end up with a No Deal 2.0 — as it will want to diverge from the EU on regulations to become a more competitive global player.

The prospect left obsessive Remainer Tony Blair in some distress, with the Iraq War architect saying in October: “The truth is No Deal is still on the table because the negotiations are actually a tale of two deals. The second deal, which is the really important one, [on] Britain’s future relationship with Europe, is not decided yet. It will be a negotiation after we do Brexit. It’s got to be dealt with by the end of 2020, and the fact of the matter is I actually think the likely outcome of that is No Deal.”

Leading Eurocrats have also signalled that the next phase of negotiations could end in No Deal 2.0, with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier saying last month: “The risk of Brexit happening without a ratified deal still exists.”

The Frenchman did say this week that the bloc will work to prioritise a basic trade deal with the United Kingdom. But he said that agreement would come at the cost of the British playing by the EU’s “level playing field” rules and signing up to specific EU regulations.

Ratification by the EU-27 will also be dependent on London bending the knee to Brussels, with one nation’s veto enough to scupper a deal entirely. Germany and France have already expressed that they do not want the UK to become a “competitor” on Europe’s doorstep.

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