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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020

Boris Johnson: 'We're walking out of the EU on 31 October'

The British PM has written a column for The Sun on Sunday underlining how his recent proposals are key.

A life-size Boris Johnson cake unveiled on Friday.
A life-size Boris Johnson cake unveiled on Friday.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON HAS penned a column aimed at the EU in the Sun on Sunday newspaper today, telling the union that the UK will be “walking out” on 31 October.

In the column, Johnson says that the exit comes “after decades of campaigning, three years of arguments and seemingly endless months of pointless delay”.

The Tory leader says that right now the only question that remains is whether Brussels waves the UK off with a mutually agreeable deal, or “whether we will be forced to head off on our own”.

He mentions his proposals published last week – which he describes as a “practical compromise” – that he believes would help to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

Doubling down on his description of the backstop as ‘anti-democratic’, he says his plan would respect the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. 

In short, writes Johnson, his new plan “gets Brexit done on October 31″. 

The way I see it, the proposals published this week represent we in the UK jumping to the island in the middle of the river. If we’re to leave with a deal, we need the EU to jump over from its side and join us there, showing its own willingness to do a deal that the UK Parliament can support.

Meanwhile, UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday show today that Britain is open to discussing the mechanism for how politicians in Northern Ireland decide on remaining in regulatory alignment with the EU – as set out in the proposals above.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to meet with Johnson next week – and Varadkar underlined last night that “time is tight” for a Brexit deal to be struck ahead of a European Council summit on 17 and 18 October.

He said he believes a deal can be reached and refused to set out when Johnson should submit any final proposals to the EU, but said that next Friday was “reasonable”.

Asked whether he thinks a deal can be done, Varadkar said:

“It’s possible at the European Council summit in two weeks time, but the current position as of today is the European Union, including Ireland, doesn’t feel that the proposals put forward by Prime Minister Johnson yet form the basis for deeper negotiations.”

He said the Irish government had concerns about the issue of consent and democracy in the North, as well as a serious problem with custom checks.

“That is the hard border we have been trying to avoid all along,” he said.

- With additional reporting from Christina Finn

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