UK: Boris Johnson to set out details of ‘final’ Brexit offer
Boris Johnson will set out details of his “final” negotiating offer to the EU on Wednesday in pursuit of a “fair and reasonable” Brexit compromise.
The prime minister will address the Tory conference before submitting new proposals, intended to form the legal text of a new Brexit deal, to Brussels.
Only by leaving the EU on 31 October can the UK “move on”, he will argue.
Tory Chairman James Cleverly said the UK had been “flexible and pragmatic”, and now the EU must be the same.
On the eve of his speech, Mr Johnson told a conference fringe meeting in Manchester, hosted by the DUP, that he hoped to reach a deal with the EU over the course of “the next few days”.
Later, he will claim the public will no longer be “taken for fools” by those who want to delay or block the process.
The government has insisted it will not negotiate a further delay beyond the Halloween deadline, saying this would be unnecessary and costly for the UK.
However, under the terms of a law passed by Parliament last month, the PM faces having to request another extension unless MPs back the terms of withdrawal by 19 October – two days after a summit of European leaders.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson dismissed leaked reports that customs posts could be set up on either side of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
He said suggestions the UK wanted “clearance zones” for goods as part of a package of alternative arrangements to replace the Irish backstop were wide of the mark.
While he conceded some customs checks would be needed as the UK leaves the EU’s customs union and single market, he said technology could keep them to an “absolute minimum”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cleverly appeared to put the ball in the EU’s court.
“We have been in negotiating for some while,” he said. “The UK has been flexible, but a negotiation means both parties need to be flexible.
“What we need to see now is the EU be flexible – and if they can be pragmatic and flexible, we can leave with a deal on 31 October. But we are going to leave on 31 October whatever.”
Irish Fine Gael senator Neale Richmond told Today that the PM’s plans were a “big move” from the withdrawal agreement made by Theresa May.
Mr Richmond said, under the plan, Northern Ireland would leave the customs union and “come out of the single market in all areas, apart from agri-food products and industrial products, and indeed it only stays in those areas for four years”.
This, he added, would require “additional checks” on the island of Ireland – something he described as “extremely disappointing”.