Brexit

Boris Johnson calls for Brussels compromise as he seeks Brexit deal

Boris Johnson leaves the stage with his partner Carrie Symonds after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture by PA Wire 
David Hughes, Press Association

Boris Johnson urged Brussels to compromise as he said put forward "constructive and reasonable proposals" to resolve the Brexit deadlock.

The British prime minister insisted the UK was ready to leave without a deal on October 31 if the European Union refused to work with him on reaching an agreement.

In his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference Mr Johnson insisted his plan to replace the Irish backstop would "in no circumstances" result in checks at or near the border.

Mr Johnson said: "Today in Brussels we are tabling what I believe are constructive and reasonable proposals which provide a compromise for both sides.

"We will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland.

"We will respect the peace process and the Good Friday agreement.

Read More: Colum Eastwood urges Westminster co-operation to oust Boris Johnson

"And by a process of renewable democratic consent by the executive and assembly of Northern Ireland we will go further and protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and other businesses on both sides of the border.

"And at the same time we will allow the UK - whole and entire - to withdraw from the EU, with control of our own trade policy from the start. "

Mr Johnson acknowledged the plan represented a "compromise by the UK".

"I hope very much that our friends understand that and compromise in their turn," he told the Manchester conference.

"Because if we fail to get an agreement because of what is essentially a technical discussion of the exact nature of future customs checks, when that technology is improving the whole time, then let us be in no doubt that the alternative is no deal.

"That is not an outcome we want. It is not an outcome we seek at all.

"But ... it is an outcome for which we are ready."

British officials have made clear to EU counterparts that the legal texts being presented to the European Union are a final offer and unless Brussels is prepared to engage there will be no more talks until after Brexit.

The plan involves a "two borders for four years" measure that will leave Northern Ireland in a relationship with Europe until 2025, according to The Daily Telegraph.

It accepts the need for both a regulatory border between Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea for four years and customs checks between the north and the Republic.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney, speaking late last night, said this was "no basis for an agreement" and "concerning to say the least".

Mr Johnson will speak to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker this afternoon to discuss the British government's Brexit plan.

The commission said it will not "pre-empt any reaction" before having a chance to study the proposals to replace the backstop.

Mr Johnson told the conference "we can, we must and we will" get Brexit done.

Despite the legislation passed into law aimed at blocking the prime minister from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal unless he has the consent of MPs - Mr Johnson insisted he would meet the October 31 deadline "come what may".

He said that people felt they were being "taken for fools" by Westminster's failure to honour the result of the 2016 referendum and warned of "grave consequences" if Brexit was not delivered.

In a speech clearly aimed at wooing voters ahead of the election he has so far not been blocked by MPs from calling, Mr Johnson:

  • Insisted the Tories were "the party of the NHS" and would also "solve the problem of social care", although he did not set out how
  • Branded Jeremy Corbyn's Labour a party of "fratricidal, anti-Semitic Marxists"
  • Said the Liberal Democrats' idea of serving the national interest was "to write to Jean-Claude Juncker urging him not to give this country a better deal"
  • Claimed the pro-Brexit Tories would "turbocharge the Scottish fishing sector" while the SNP would hand back control to the EU.

Mr Johnson, who skipped Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons to address the less hostile crowd in Manchester, said Parliament was "on the blink".

If it were a school "Ofsted would be shutting it down" and if it were a reality TV show "the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle".

"The sad truth is that voters have more say over I'm a Celebrity than they do over this House of Commons," he said.

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