Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Boris Johnson set to table concrete Brexit proposals

Getting rid of Irish border backstop is most 'fantastic thing'

The UK will leave the European Union by October 31, says Boris Johnson. AFP
The UK will leave the European Union by October 31, says Boris Johnson. AFP

Boris Johnson has fended off uproar over his approach to leaving the European Union and claims about his private life, as the UK Prime Minister said the government would offer an amended Brexit deal to Brussels soon.

He has suffered repeated setbacks in parliament, the courts and elsewhere as he tries to ensure Brexit will take place by October 31 with or without a divorce agreement with Brussels. Many fear a no-deal departure from the EU could send the UK into a recession. EU leaders say previous offers are not good enough but Mr Johnson declared "this is the moment when the rubber hits the road” on Tuesday.

"We've made a very good offer, we're going to make a very good offer, we're going to be tabling it formally very soon,” Mr Johnson told the BBC in Manchester, at the Conservative Party conference.

"We do think there's a good way forward, we do think there's a good solution. I very much hope that our European, EU friends in Brussels, in Dublin, in Germany as well will want to take it forward."

His predecessor Theresa May saw her Brexit deal, which Mr Johnson wants to change, rejected by parliament three times.

Perhaps the most controversial element is the Irish backstop, the insurance policy to ensure the border on the island of Ireland stays open even if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Critics say it effectively means the UK will never properly leave the EU.

Mr Johnson rejected claims his government would propose a string of customs posts not far from the Irish border. He added he "would like to veil our proposals in decent obscurity”.

"What we want to do is to get rid of the backstop, that is the most important thing," Mr Johnson said.

"Getting rid of the backstop is a fantastic thing because what that does is it enables the UK genuinely to take back control of our regulatory framework, our tariffs, our customs and commercial policy and it allows us to go forward with a new and exciting relationship, not just with the EU but also with the rest of the world.”

Mr Johnson also said it was “inevitable” he would “come under a certain amount of shot and shell” as he tries to take the UK out of the EU.

The Prime Minister has been stung by claims in recent days that he inappropriately touched a journalist in 1999.

"They're not true. It's obviously very sad that someone should make such allegations,” Mr Johnson said.

The pound plunged to a one-month low on Tuesday as fears of a no-deal Brexit grow.

Last week, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled Mr Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks until mid-October – only two weeks before Brexit – was unlawful in a devastating loss for the government.

Updated: October 1, 2019 07:04 PM

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