News | Published September 16 2019

Johnson to tell Juncker UK won't delay Brexit beyond Oct 31

Boris Johnson is set to tell Jean-Claude Juncker that the UK won't delay Brexit beyond October 31 at a meeting in Luxembourg later today.

It will be the first meeting between the UK prime minister and European Commission president since Johnson became prime minister in July.

Mr Johnson’s insistence that he will not delay Brexit beyond October 31 comes despite the fact parliament passed legislation compelling him to seek a further extension if a deal cannot be secured.

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has said the UK will follow the rule of law and comply with any legislation but said the so-called “Benn bill” will be looked at closely by the government.

This was corroborated by the prime minister’s official spokesperson, who said: “The position of the PM is that we comply with the law, but that we are leaving on 31 October whatever the outcome.”

Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will also attend the meeting in Luxembourg and Johnson will be joined by Brexit secretary Steve Barclay and Brexit adviser David Frost.

Johnson told the Mail on Sunday yesterday that the UK would “break out of its manacles” like the Incredible Hulk and leave on Halloween in any circumstance.

Johnson has described himself as “cautiously optimistic” in any chance of securing a deal, and reports have suggested that Johnson is considering a plan to keep Northern Ireland more closely aligned to the EU after Brexit.

This close alignment could form part of a deal without the Irish backstop - the insurance policy that would avoid the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland - a key reason for Theresa May’s historic commons defeats.

The UK government has stressed it wants a deal but has ramped up no-deal preparations and insisted Britain will leave next month “come what may”. 

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Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
September 16 2019

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