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July 25, 2024
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Boris Johnson pitches ‘final’ Brexit offer to EU but warns of no deal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday made a final Brexit offer to the European Union but said that if Brussels did not engage then Britain would leave on Oct. 31 without a deal.

In his closing speech to his Conservatives’ annual conference, Johnson stuck to his hard line on Brexit, giving the party faithful some of the first, albeit vague, details of what he described as his “fair and reasonable compromise” to the EU.

“We are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may,” Johnson told party members, after expressing “love” for Europe in a speech which focused mostly on domestic issues such as health, the economy and crime.

“We are tabling what I believe are constructive and reasonable proposals which provide a compromise for both sides,” Johnson said. “Let us be in no doubt that the alternative is no deal.”

Quitting the EU is Britain’s most significant geopolitical move since World War Two. But with less than a month to the scheduled departure date it is still uncertain if it will leave with a deal or without one – or even not leave at all.

In a strategy that will define the future of Brexit, the EU and his premiership, Johnson said he wanted to get a deal but that he was ready for a no-deal – a scenario that would spook financial markets and send shockwaves through the global economy.

Many EU diplomats fear the United Kingdom is heading towards a no-deal or another delay as they say the British proposals are not enough to get an agreement by Oct. 31. Johnson said further delay was “pointless and expensive”.

Brexit has for over three years divided the United Kingdom and left British politics in turmoil. In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 52 percent, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48 percent, backed staying in the bloc.

“LAST” BREXIT OFFER

After weeks of talks since Johnson took power in July that have made little headway to break the Brexit stand-off, the prime minister will made his last gambit – a new proposal which British officials describe as a final offer.

A senior British government official said: “The government is either going to be negotiating a new deal or working on no deal — nobody will work on delay.”

Giving little detail on his proposals, he said there would be no checks at or near the Irish border. He said London would respect the 1998 peace agreement that ended three decades of conflict in the province. He did not explain how.

“By a process of renewable democratic consent by the executive and assembly of Northern Ireland,” Johnson said. “We will go further and protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and other businesses on both sides of the border.”He said the United Kingdom “whole and entire” would withdraw from the EU, with London keeping control of its own trade policy from the start. He said technology could offer a solution but gave no specifics.

However, parliament has passed a law stating that Britain cannot leave the EU with no deal and Johnson has not revealed how he plans to get around that should he fail to secure an agreement.

EU diplomats and officials in Brussels, reacting to earlier British media reports on what the proposal contained, called it “fundamentally flawed” and expressed doubt it would be accepted.If it’s take it or leave it, we better close the book and start talking about the modalities of an extension,” the official said.

The European Union will examine “objectively” any new UK proposals on Brexit and wishes to enter into “constructive” talks with London, a spokeswoman for the bloc’s executive European Commission said.

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