Northern Ireland news

Queen Elizabeth helped Boris Johnson manoeuvre towards Brexit deal in 2019, new book claims

Queen Elizabeth II and Boris Johnson at Buckingham Palace
Suzanne McGonagle

QUEEN Elizabeth helped Boris Johnson manoeuvre towards a Brexit deal back in 2019, a new book has claimed.

The late British monarch "delicately planted" the idea of appealing to Leo Varadkar to break a deadlock in negotiations at the time in a bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

In Johnson at 10, historian Anthony Seldon suggests that the appeal resulted in a summit, leading to talks between the EU and Westminster and a compromise deal later struck. 

Mr Seldon writes in his book, which is reported in The Times newspaper, that Mr Johnson said in September 2019 that he needed to pursue a deal with the EU.

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"After a private walk with the Queen he suggested to officials that she had delicately planted, without saying so explicitly, the idea of talking to Varadkar to solve the impasse," the book states.

Mr Seldon claims the two leaders had a phone call, during which Mr Varadkar, taoiseach at the time, said he was willing to listen to the British prime minister and a summit was agreed to take place in October 2019.

A 90-minute meeting was held at the Thornton Manor Hotel in the Wirral that ended in agreement about the importance of reaching a deal.

Following their in-person meeting, Mr Varadkar said: "What I can say is I had a very good meeting today with the Prime Minister and our teams together - very positive and very promising".

The book also describes how Johnson was close to giving the Queen Covid during a weekly audience.

"Johnson was very eager not to be restricted by the new laws or his apparent symptoms, to the dismay of palace officials deeply concerned at the risk of exposing the elderly Queen to the virus," the book states.

"After some convincing, both from the Palace and Cummings, Johnson acquiesced and agreed to hold the conversation remotely by phone."

Mr Seldon also says in the book that Queen Elizabeth allowed Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie to use palace gardens to exercise away from the public eye during the pandemic.

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