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PM insists he wants new Brexit deal as No 10 says there will be no more delays

Downing Street added ministers will obey the law but will not seek a further extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Government Buildings, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Government Buildings, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

By Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

Boris Johnson has insisted he is committed to securing a new Brexit deal as Downing Street again made clear the Prime Minister would not countenance any further delay to Britain’s EU withdrawal

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The Prime Minister, who was in Dublin for talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar, said he believed it was possible to secure an agreement ahead of the UK’s scheduled departure at the end of October.

However, Mr Varadkar said that while Ireland was open to alternative solutions to the Northern Ireland backstop, they had yet to see any “legally workable” proposals from the UK.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has confirmed that Parliament will be prorogued at the end of business on Monday.

Opposition leaders meeting in Westminster confirmed they would block the Prime Minister’s latest attempt to force a general election in a vote later in the day.

Labour said they were determined to prevent Mr Johnson “crashing us out” of the EU in a no-deal Brexit in the midst of an election campaign.

Boris Johnson meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Government Buildings, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

With the Bill requiring Mr Johnson to seek a further delay to Brexit if he cannot get a new deal set to become law, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said ministers did not intend to break the law.

At the same time, the spokesman reaffirmed the Mr Johnson’s declaration he was not prepared to seek another extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process.

“The Government will obey the law but the Prime Minister will not be asking for an extension,” the spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister’s Government will not be extending the Article 50 process. We will be leaving on October 31.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the Government’s decision to go ahead with the suspension of Parliament for five weeks as “disgraceful”.

“Parliament should be holding the Government to account. The Prime Minister appears to want to run away from questions,” he said.

Jeremy Corbyn has described the suspension of Parliament as ‘disgraceful’ (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Prime Minister said he was “absolutely undaunted” by events at Westminster and urged MPs to honour the result of the 2016 referendum and allow Britain to leave on October 31.

Standing alongside Mr Varadkar, he said he believed it was still possible to reach a new agreement with Brussels by the time of the next EU summit on October 17 and 18.

While Mr Johnson said he did not underestimate the “technical problems” involved in resolving the issue of the Irish border, he said the UK was ready to bring forward proposals to address the “full range of issues”.

They included the “electronic pre-clearance” of goods and the “unity” of the island of Ireland for the trade in agri-food.

“Strip away the politics and at the core of each problem you find practical issues that can be resolved with sufficient energy and a spirit of compromise.”

Mr Varadkar said he was willing to work with the Prime Minister as a “friend and ally” to find a solution but said Ireland was not prepared to accept the replacement of a “legal guarantee with a promise”.

He said that the Northern Ireland backstop – intended to ensure there is no return of a hard border with the Republic – remained a “critical component” of the agreement unless a viable alternative could be found.

“Avoiding a return to a hard border is the priority of this Government,” he said.

“We are open to alternatives but they must be realistic ones – legally workable – and we have not received such proposals to date.”



From Belfast Telegraph