Republic of Ireland news

Boris Johnson did not understand his own Brexit deal, says Cummings

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street in November. Picture by Yui Mok/PA
Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

Boris Johnson never understood what his Withdrawal Agreement with the EU really meant, his former chief adviser has said.

Dominic Cummings said in a provocative series of tweets that he had always intended to get “the trolley” – his derogatory nickname for the Prime Minister – to “ditch the bits we didn’t like” after beating Labour in the 2019 general election.

His latest intervention came after Brexit minister Lord Frost set out the UK’s demands for fundamental changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol contained in the agreement which Mr Johnson signed in January 2020.

He said that when Mr Johnson finally realised the true implications of the deal, he claimed he would never have agreed to it – although Mr Cummings said that was a lie.

During the election campaign, Mr Johnson repeatedly boasted that the “divorce” settlement he had negotiated with Brussels – including the Northern Ireland Protocol – was a “great” deal that was “oven ready” to be signed.

Mr Cummings said: “What I’ve said does NOT mean ‘the PM was lying in General Election 2019’, he never had a scoobydoo what the deal he signed meant.

“He never understood what leaving Customs Union meant until November 2020.”

When the Prime Minister did finally comprehend, “he was babbling ‘I’d never have signed it if I’d understood it’ (but that WAS a lie)”.

Mr Cummings, who was credited with masterminding the successful Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum, said that, when Mr Johnson entered No 10 in 2019, the country was facing the “worst constitutional crisis in a century” with much of what he called the “deep state” angling for “Bino” (Brexit in name only) or a second referendum.

“So we wriggled through with best option we could and intended to get the trolley to ditch bits we didn’t like after whacking (Labour leader Jeremy) Corbyn. We prioritised,” he said.

He dismissed suggestions that abandoning those elements of the Withdrawal Agreement would mean breaking international law.

“Our priorities meant e.g. getting Brexit done is 10,000 times more important than lawyers yapping re international law in negotiations with people who break international law all the time,” he said.

“EU membership infantilised SW1 (Westminster) as yapping re ‘international law’ clearly shows.”

Read more: Leo Varadkar warns global leaders against agreements with a UK Government 'that doesn't necessarily keep its word'

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