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News | Published March 11 2019

Boris: Backstop will leave EU as our "colonial masters"

Boris Johnson called on the government to oppose attempts to remove no-deal as an option or extend Article 50 in his Telegraph column yesterday.

Johnson focused on what he perceived to be the “chronic disdain” and “contempt” of the EU for Britain.

He argued that the current Withdrawal Agreement would impose “constitutional humiliation” and leave the EU as “our colonial masters.”

In a crucial week for the next steps of Brexit, May’s deal will be again put before parliament before the House is scheduled to vote on the possibility of a no-deal and the extension of Article 50.

Johnson announced his refusal to support May’s deal in its current state, focusing on the UK’s current inability to unilaterally exit the backstop. Describing Geoffrey Cox’s attempt to employ a test of “reasonableness”, a measure enshrined in UK common law, to any EU attempt to prevent the UK leaving the backstop, Johnson attacked the EU’s refusal to agree, describing their offer as “supercilious” and “repetitive.”

Attacking May’s deal, he argued that the Withdrawal Agreement will mean that the UK will be “effectively obliged to remain part of the customs union of the EU.”

He added that “We will not be able to set our own tariffs. We will not be able to do proper free-trade deals. We will not be able to be a proud, independent actor on the world stage, or to campaign coherently for free trade.”

Remaining in a customs union, according to Johnson, would lead to the EU being able to “forcibly sterilise any signs of growth or innovation of which they disapprove.”

This state of affairs, he argues, would leave the EU as our “colonial masters.”

In the face of this, Johnson outlined his belief that a no-deal scenario is essential to strengthen the UK’s hand in negotiations.

Describing taking no-deal off the table as “preposterous”, he also labelled extending Article 50 as “absurd.” Instead, he argued, the UK should leave with a “mutually agreed standstill in the existing arrangements, so that we can use the period to the end of 2021…to do a proper free-trade deal.” This proposal is also known as the Malthouse Compromise.

Johnson stated his belief that “we can still have a Brexit that is friendly, smooth and orderly” but bombastically announced that he would not be supporting the backstop in its current state. 


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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
@theparlreview
March 11 2019

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