Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Boris Johnson calls Chequers Brexit plan 'miserable permanent limbo'

Boris Johnson calls Chequers Brexit plan 'miserable permanent limbo'

"A country eager, as she said, not just just to do a bold, ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, out of the customs union and out of the single market, but also to do new free trade deals around the world", he continued.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the face of the Brexit campaign, is also staying put to defend his vision of the divorce, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

Where the government might struggle is explaining its acceptance of the demand that the European Union must collect tariffs on Britain's behalf, if London is to do the same - a suggestion one expert said the bloc's negotiators were unlikely to accept.

"It is not too late to save Brexit", Johnson said in his first statement to parliament since his resignation.

'We have changed tack once and we can change tack again.

The government was forced to abandon a plan to start parliament's summer recess five days early, after opponents criticised it as a ploy to avoid further rows, and members of her own party said they still had work to do.

Instead, he said the United Kingdom had conceded ground over the divorce bill, the role of the European Court of Justice and the Northern Ireland border, which he said had needlessly become "politically charged" and resulted in a "fantastical, Heath Robinson" customs arrangement being put forward.

Mr Johnson's speech was re-tweeted by a host of prominent Brexiteer Tories, among them Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the influential European Research Group of MPs.

It is rare for ministers to deliver such a speech in Parliament.

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But it stopped short of the blistering attack that some had expected.

Labour's Wes Streeting called the speech a "total damp squib".

UK Prime Minister Theresa May moved quickly to contain a crisis in her government after her chief Brexit negotiator quit, replacing him with a young euroskeptic and insisted she would press ahead with her vision for the divorce.

May's political vulnerability was exposed by the survey which found voters would prefer Boris Johnson, who quit as her foreign minister two weeks ago, to negotiate with the European Union and lead the Conservative Party into the next election. Major faced the same divisions over Europe as the party is battling now, but said the pro-Brexit wing had put May in a much more hard position.

During her meeting with the Commons liaison committee, Mrs May said Brexit "continues to mean Brexit" and repeated her claim that no deal with Brussels was better than a bad deal.

Ms Soubry told BBC Radio 4: 'Your listeners should be angry that the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg are running our country at this the most hard of times since the Second World War'.

But she added: 'What we are doing at the moment is working for a deal'.

But by setting a deadline for May to change her approach, she said he appeared to be telling MPs that it would be "in their hands" if she didn't.

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