Boris Johnson will fight a No Deal election against ‘hostile’ EU
‘If this deal dies it WON’T be revived’: No10 warns Brussels that Boris Johnson is not ‘bluffing’ and WILL force through No Deal if negotiations break down in furious threat to END cooperation with any ‘hostile’ EU nation that supports a Brexit delay
- Number 10 source said attempts to delay Brexit is pointless as Britain will leave
- Countries that ‘oppose delay will go to the front of the queue’ for cooperation
- If EU tried to keep Britain in, defence and security cooperation could be affected
Boris Johnson was today gathering his forces for an all-out battle with the EU and Remainer MPs as aides admitted Brexit talks are set to break down dramatically this week.
Amid increasingly bitter clashes with Brussels, the PM and his senior team will consider whether anything can be done to break the deadlock.
But furious Downing Street sources have painted a grim picture of the consequences of rejecting the UK’s ‘fair and reasonable’ blueprint.
One has explosively claimed the government will make clear that any EU country supporting a delay to the October 31 Brexit deadline would be engaging in ‘hostile interference’ in British politics.
Any hope of cooperation will be ‘in the toilet’ and the Tories will end all negotiations to fight an election, switching to a policy of leaving the EU immediately with No Deal.
The Tories will win because Parliament and Remainer MPs are ‘as popular as the Clap’.
‘They think now that if there is another delay we will keep coming back with new proposals,’ the source told the Spectator. ‘This won’t happen. We’ll either leave with No Deal on 31 October or there will be an election and then we will leave with No Deal.’
The brutal assault – which former Cabinet minister Amber Rudd claimed came from maverick No10 aide Dominic Cummings – emerged after Mr Johnson’s proposals hit a huge roadblock.
EU politicians have branded them a ‘joke’ and Emmanuel Macron setting a deadline of Friday for the UK to make more concessions.
The prospects of getting a deal for a crunch Brussels summit next week now appear to be close to zero.
Boris Johnson (pictured visiting a hospital in Watford today) is gathering his Cabinet for a crisis meeting as aides admit the Brexit talks are set to break down dramatically this week
Irish PM Leo Varadkar and EU negotiator Michel Barnier have given short shrift to the UK’s Brexit blueprint
Former Cabinet minister Amber Rudd claimed maverick No10 aide Dominic Cummings (pictured in Downing Street last week) was behind the explosive briefing
While technical talks between officials continued yesterday, EU leaders have so far refused to hold face-to-face talks with Mr Johnson on his plan for replacing the controversial Irish backstop.
The PM said Brussels had been presented with ‘a big step forward, big advance, big compromise by the UK Government’, but complained the EU was not engaging with the details.
He added: ‘What we’re saying to our friends is, this is a very generous, fair and reasonable offer we’ve made. What we’d like to hear from you now is what your thoughts are. And if you have issues with any of the proposals that we’ve come up with, then let’s get into the detail and discuss them. It’s time for us to get together and really thrash this thing out.’
What is Boris Johnson’s five-point plan to scrap the Irish backstop?
Northern Ireland would leave the Customs’ Union with the rest of the UK but stay in the single market.
This would constitute an ‘all island regulatory zone’ that covers trade of all goods. It would mean no checks between the two nations, because Northern Ireland would still have to follow EU rules.
Goods from Britain to Northern Ireland would effectively be managed by a border in the Irish Sea, with checks only in that direction, not the reverse.
The ‘all island regulatory zone’ will have to be approved by the people of Northern Ireland. This means the Northern Ireland Assembly has the right to veto the zone and could hold a referendum on the matter.
Customs checks would have to be put in place on trade between Northern and the Republic of Ireland. Most checks would be made using technology, but some would still have to be physical.
Cash for Northern Ireland
A promise of a ‘new deal for Northern Ireland’ means ministers putting money aside for Belfast and Dublin to help aide economic development and ensure new measures work.
Keeping to the Good Friday agreement
Freedom of movement between two countries will remain. New deal would confirm commitment to collobaration between UK and Ireland.
However, EU officials responded last night by leaking to The Guardian a rejection of the UK’s offer.
The ‘confidential’ report said the Prime Minister’s plan to take Northern Ireland out of the customs union would cause ‘major disruption to the all-Ireland economy’.
And it said Brussels did not accept that the people of Northern Ireland should be asked to consent to the idea of the province remaining aligned to EU rules after Brexit.
The report is said to have been delivered last Friday to Mr Johnson’s chief EU adviser David Frost.
A UK official responded: ‘Rather than writing documents in order to leak them, the EU’s time would be better spent on engaging with our sensible and fair proposals, so the UK can leave with a deal when we exit the EU on October 31.’
The senior No10 source told The Spectator Irish PM Leo Varadkar had reneged on promises to make concessions alongside the UK.
Mr Varadkar ‘said if we moved on manufactured goods then he would also move but instead he just attacked us publicly’.
The source said they would make it clear in public and in private that the interference is not welcome, and any attempt to delay is pointless as Britain will leave regardless on 31 October.
They suggested the government has still not given up on trying to get round the Benn Act, but insisted: ‘We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go to the front of the queue for future cooperation…
‘Supporting the delay will be seen by this government as hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us.’
Defence and security cooperation could be affected if the European Union attempted to keep Britain in against its wishes.
The source added: ‘Those who supported delay will face the inevitable consequences of being seen to interfere in domestic politics in a deeply unpopular way.’
Spelling out that the Tories will need to harden up their Brexit stance even further to outflank Nigel Farage – who has been demanding a clean break – the source said: ‘To marginalise the Brexit Party, we will have to fight the election on the basis of ‘No more delays, get Brexit done immediately”.’
In a vicious swipe at Remainer MPs, they added: ‘Those who pushed the Benn Act intended to sabotage a deal and they’ve probably succeeded.
‘So the main effect of it will probably be to help us win an election by uniting the leave vote and then a no-deal Brexit. History is full of such ironies and tragedies.’
A senior Downing Street source said that any attempts by European countries to support a delay to Brexit would be considered as ‘hostile interference’ in Britain’s politics
Asked if the source quote came from Mr Cummings, Ms Rudd told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think Dominic Cummings, yes, because otherwise it would have been heavily denied and heads would have rolled.
‘So clearly it’s come from them, it’s in their style.
‘It reveals that there doesn’t appear to be an actual plan at all. Instead, what they’re doing is angrily, apparently, begging the EU not to support a delay which will be required because of the position that Parliament has taken.’
With both sides anxious to avoid the blame for a breakdown in talks, Government sources said officials were drawing up their own report setting out concessions Mr Johnson had made after the EU’s previous demands.
These include asking Northern Ireland to remain in the single market for goods after Brexit to reduce the need for border checks.
No10 sources last night confirmed Mr Johnson might even boycott next week’s summit unless EU leaders agree to discuss his plans.
And EU diplomats suggested leaders could use the summit to instead discuss another Brexit extension, despite the fact Mr Johnson has ruled out asking for one.
Downing Street yesterday insisted it had not abandoned hopes of a last-minute breakthrough, with Mr Johnson speaking by phone with the leaders of Sweden, Denmark and Poland.
The PM’s official spokesman said: ‘We are ready to have discussions at pace, but for that to happen the EU needs to engage.’ But Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok yesterday said the UK needed to provide ‘more realism and reality’.
But one EU official said the most that could be offered with the time left would be reverting to a tweaked ‘off-the-shelf’ model, such as the Northern Ireland-only backstop.
This is a red line for Mr Johnson as it would involve Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union.
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