Johnson ready to talk to EU whenever, wherever
LONDON — The U.K. wants to re-enter Brexit talks with the EU “whenever, wherever they are ready to do so,” Boris Johnson said in his first appearance as prime minister in the House of Commons.
Calling for the EU to “rethink” its refusal to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, Johnson said his government would come to the negotiating table “in the spirit of friendship.”
However, he again insisted that a key pillar of the existing deal, the Irish backstop, was “unacceptable” and pledged to “turbo-charge” the U.K.s preparations for a possible no-deal exit on October 31.
Placing his hand on his heart at the House of Commons despatch box, he vowed that his goal was to “restore trust in our democracy and to fulfil the repeated promises of parliament to the people by coming out of the European Union and doing so on October 31.”
“I and all ministers are committed to leaving on this date whatever the circumstances. To do otherwise would cause a catastrophic loss of confidence in our political system,” he said, adding that “we will not nominate a U.K. commissioner for the new Commission taking office on 1 November — though clearly this is not intended to stop the EU appointing a new Commission.”
Johnson said that ways of avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland could be negotiated as part of the post-Brexit future relationship talks and that “other arrangements are perfectly possible” and compatible with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The EU has said it will not drop the backstop, which under Johnsons plan would leave no-deal as the only option, unless parliament — which has voted against such an outcome in the past — blocks him.
Michael Gove, the new Cabinet Office minister, has been placed in charge of no-deal preparations, Johnson said, telling MPs that he had instructed the U.K.s top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, to “mobilize” Whitehall for a “national effort” to get the country ready to leave in less than 100 days.
He again challenged doubters of the U.K.s ability to prosper post Brexit, saying that by 2050 the country would be “the greatest place on Earth.” He said that since he was a child he has been told “our time as a nation has passed, that we should be content with mediocrity and managed decline … time and again with theRead More – Source