Prime Minister Boris Johnson to compromise on Brexit

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech to delegates on the final day of the annual Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex, yesterday. Photo/AFP

London, Wednesday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would submit “compromise” plans for a Brexit agreement to Brussels on Wednesday but again warned that Britain was prepared to leave the European Union later this month without a deal, despite fears it could herald an economic slump.

In his closing speech to his Conservative party’s annual conference, Johnson said the plans would address the contentious issue of how to keep open Britain’s border with Ireland.

“This is a compromise by the UK,” he told delegates in the northwestern city of Manchester, adding that he hoped EU leaders “understand that and compromise in their turn”.

Ready for outcome

But he emphasised that if they did not, Britain would still leave the EU on October 31. A no-deal exit “is not an outcome we seek at all. But let me tell you my friends it is an outcome for which we are ready”, he said, to big cheers from delegates.

The PM was expected to speak to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later on Wednesday to discuss the revised offer.

Johnson, a leading “leave” campaigner in the 2016 EU referendum, took office in July vowing to deliver Brexit at the end of this month in all circumstances.

But like his predecessor Theresa May, he has struggled against a hostile parliament and the complexities of untangling four decades of EU integration.

His promise to leave without a deal was derailed when MPs last month passed a law demanding he seek to delay Brexit if he has not reached an agreement by an EU summit on October 17.

Johnson is now racing to renegotiate the exit terms May agreed with Brussels, which were rejected by the British parliament three times.

His proposals focus on finding an alternative to her controversial “backstop” plan, which aims to keep an open border between British Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.

The current arrangement would keep Britain in an effective customs union with the EU, which critics argued would force London to abide by the bloc’s rules indefinitely.

Johnson said his plan would “under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland”.

It would seek to protect cross-border agricultural trade by extending existing regulatory arrangements—indicating Northern Ireland will continue following some EU rules.

But the province will remain part of the same customs territory as mainland Britain, he said. “We will allow the UK  to withdraw from the EU, with control of our own trade policy from the start,” he said. —AFP

More on World