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This is final chance to secure any deal, Johnson tells French President Macron

By Our Political Staff

Boris Johnson has told the French President the European Union should not be lured into the mistaken belief that Brexit will be delayed beyond October 31.

The Prime Minister spent the weekend talking to EU leaders including Emmanuel Macron and Portugal's Antonio Costa, and is thought likely to travel to the Continent later this week.

Downing Street warned Brussels it would be an "historic misunderstanding" to believe the so-called Benn Act could prevent a no-deal Brexit, despite being designed to do so.

A senior Number 10 source said if the European Commission did not show a willingness to compromise, the UK would leave without an agreement later this month.

During his call with Mr Macron yesterday, the PM was said to have made clear that it was the final opportunity to secure a deal, but that the EU must match the compromises the UK has made.

Mr Johnson told his French counterpart he wanted to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides, and that his new proposals commanded the support of parliamentarians, Number 10 said.

It is also understood that the Government will consider publishing the full legal text, which has so far only been shared confidentially with Brussels, if it is deemed helpful to progress the negotiations.

A senior Number 10 source said: "This is the chance to get a deal done: a deal that is backed by parliamentarians and a deal which involves compromise on all sides. The UK has made a big, important offer but it's time for the Commission to show a willingness to compromise too. If not the UK will leave with no deal.

"The surrender act and its authors are undermining negotiations, but if EU leaders are betting that it will prevent no-deal, that would be a historic misunderstanding."

Separately yesterday, suggestions that Commons Speaker John Bercow could become caretaker-Prime Minister in a Government of national unity have been dismissed as "fantasy football" by Shami Chakrabarti.

The shadow attorney general said stopping a no-deal Brexit has to be the priority, and insisted there are no loopholes in the Benn Act, which is designed to avert such a scenario.

However, she warned that MPs will need to be able to properly scrutinise any deal Mr Johnson proposes. Asked by Andrew Marr on the BBC about Mr Bercow becoming a caretaker-leader, she said: "If I may say so, we are now getting into almost fantasy football. I think it's unlikely, I really, really do."

She said once the Benn Act has been complied with, there should be a general election, "certainly this side of Christmas".

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told Marr: "Getting Brexit done is the best way to get national unity in this country."

Baroness Chakrabarti, however, questioned how Brexit can be achieved in compliance with the law, and claimed that the Prime Minister speaks with a "forked tongue" on whether he intends to ask the EU for a Brexit extension.

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