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'Brexit Godfather' Johnson accused of deliberately putting forward a Brexit deal the EU will reject

The British Prime Minister is today expected to again stress that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, one way or another.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured at the Conservative Party conference this week.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured at the Conservative Party conference this week.
Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Oct 2nd 2019, 9:06 AM

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson is due to outline his final Brexit offer to the EU today, as he has been accused of deliberately putting forward a deal he knows the bloc will reject.

The proposals are expected to stress there will be no delay to Britain leaving the European Union beyond the current deadline of 31 October.

Johnson will use his speech at the Conservative Party conference to say “we can, we must and we will” get Brexit done because voters feel they are being “taken for fools” by Westminster’s politicians.

The prime minister is expected to unveil a “two borders for four years” plan that will leave Northern Ireland in a relationship with Europe until 2025, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The proposals would see the UK as a whole remaining in the EU for a transition period until the end of 2021 and Northern Ireland remaining part of the Single Market until at least 2025 but leaving the Customs Union with the rest of the UK.

A senior EU source told RTÉ News this scenario is not legally workable.

Johnson is expected to tell the EU this is his government’s final offer and that no more talks will take place until after Brexit – making a hard Brexit increasingly likely.

The prime minister will restate his commitment to the 31 October deadline despite legislation aimed at preventing him taking the UK out of the EU without a deal unless he has the consent of the British Parliament.

In his speech in Manchester, the prime minister will say: “Voters are desperate for us to focus on their other priorities – what people want, what leavers want, what remainers want, what the whole world wants – is to move on.

“That is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31. Let’s get Brexit done – we can, we must and we will.”

‘Brexit Godfather’ 

In recent days, Irish and European politicians have hit out at Johnson’s plans for Northern Ireland.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA today confirmed he has written to the leaders of the major Westminster parties urging them to cooperate to remove Johnson from office.

“Boris Johnson’s reported offer to the European Union literally doubles down on his hard border plan. A regulatory border in the Irish Sea and a customs border across this island will strangle the local economy and runs contrary to the interests of communities and businesses here.

It is clear that he now sees himself as the Brexit Godfather, making an offer that the EU can only refuse. The British Government is accelerating toward a no-deal exit on 31st October and it must be stopped.

Eastwood said he has written to the leaders of the Labour Party, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats “asking them to take part in an unprecedented act of political selflessness to stop this chaos and protect the fragile interests of Northern Ireland”.

“They must come together, pass a motion of no confidence in Johnson and unite behind a common candidate as a temporary measure to extend the Article 50 period,” Eastwood said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Brexit, also questioned the British government’s approach.

Tweet by @RTÉ Prime Time Source: RTÉ Prime Time/Twitter

“I think that a deal can be done and I think that Boris Johnson is running out of options. 

But if they actually put those proposals on paper to Brussels and suggest a time-limited backstop just for regulations, and customs checks immediately, they know that won’t wash, they know it will not be accepted.

“And you’d have to ask the question, are they putting those proposals there knowing they’ll be rejected because they’re pursuing a no-deal policy? I sincerely hope that’s no the case, for everybody’s sake,” Chambers said. 

On the same programme, Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee said that customs checks and a time-limited backstop were “not acceptable”. She stressed there can be no infrastructure or associated checks along the border, as set out under the Good Friday Agreement, adding that Johnson needs to present “something credible”.

Contains reporting from PA 

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Órla Ryan

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