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Boris Johnson said he will offer the European Union a “compromise” in Brexit talks later on Wednesday, and threatened to walk away from negotiations if the bloc doesn’t engage.
Speaking to the Conservative party members in Manchester, his vow to deliver Brexit with or without a deal, was received with cheers. The EU is less enthusiastic about his proposal — though he’s yet to present all the details.
The next few days will be crucial. If Johnson fails to get a deal, he faces a showdown with Parliament and a battle in court. It could ultimately be up to the judges to decide if Johnson can make good on his threat to lead the country into a no-deal split.
Johnson says there will be no checks at or near the Irish border. He hasn’t given details yet — and that’s what the two sides will fight overCoveney says leaked details don’t look like basis for a dealEU officials say the question now is whether this really is the final offer or an opening gambitJohnson vows to pursue no-deal exit if EU doesn’t movePound falls
Anti-Brexit Rebel Grieve Says Cummings Is Lying (12:35 p.m.)
Dominic Grieve, until recently a Tory MP, accused Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings of telling “outright lies” for briefing that there was foreign funding for the efforts of Grieve and others to block a no-deal Brexit.
The claim that there is a government investigation ongoing is untrue, Grieve said and “mercifully this country is not yet run as a police state by Mr Cummings.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in for Johnson at prime minister’s questions, said it was right that efforts to block no-deal, including the Benn Act supported by Grieve, should be subject to scrutiny. Johnson has also raised questions about how the legislation was drafted.
Johnson Calls Labour “Anti-Semitic Marxists” (12 p.m.)
The prime minister took every opportunity throughout his speech, to attack his opponents in the Labour Party, in another sign he’s on an election footing.
Pitching himself as a champion of capitalism against Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism, Johnson describes Labour’s social care plan as “deranged and ruinous” and “borrowed from the playbook of Bolivarian revolutionary Venezuela.”
He repeated his desire to get Brexit done, criticizing Labour’s efforts to stop a no deal exit, calling the Labour leadership “fratricidal anti-Semitic Marxists”. He also criticized Corbyn’s plans for a four-day week and to end tax breaks for private schools.
Johnson took another swipe at Parliament’s refusal to give him an election. MPs are refusing, because they want to prevent a no-deal exit first.
“If Parliament were a laptop, then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom,” he told the conference.
Johnson’s Mother Voted for Brexit (11:55 a.m.)
Boris Johnson brought some levity to the party conference by glossing over the divisions in his own family over Brexit.
Johnson’s brother Jo, a remainer, quit the cabinet – and will stand down from Parliament because he disagrees with the premier’s course of action. The prime minister’s sister and father also voted remain.
But, “for keen students of the divisions in my family you might know that I have kept the ace up my sleeve,” Johnson said. “My mother voted leave,” he said, to applause from the floor.
Johnson is Ready for No-Deal (11:55 a.m.)
If the EU refuses to engage, then the country is ready for no-deal, he told the hall, to cheers.
“I hope very much that our friends understand that and compromise in their turn,” Johnson told his audience in Manchester, England, Wednesday. “If we fail to get an agreement because of what is essentially a technical discussion of the exact nature of future customs checks, when that technology is improving the whole time, then let us be in no doubt that the alternative is no deal.”
“That is not an outcome we want. It is not an outcome we seek at all. But let me tell you this conference: it is an outcome for which we are ready.”
Johnson Sets Out ‘Compromise‘ on Border (11:50 a.m.)
Johnson said the Brexit plan he’ll send to Brussels later today protects the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, involves no checks at the Irish border and represents a compromise for both sides.
“We will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland,” Johnson said in his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
He also said the regional assembly of Northern Ireland will have a role. The assembly is currently suspended.
“By a process of renewable democratic consent by the executive and assembly of Northern Ireland we will go further and protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and other businesses on both sides of the border.”
It’s a “compromise,” he said.
Let’s Get Brexit Done (11:40 a.m.)
“Lets’s get Brexit done,” Boris Johnson tells conference in Manchester, as he reiterated his call for an election.
Taking the Plan to Brussels (11:25 a.m.)
Johnson’s speech will fire the starting gun for a round of diplomacy in Brussels. David Frost, the prime minister’s EU envoy, will arrive at the European Commission mid-afternoon with copies of the plan for Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and his team.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is then expected to speak to Johnson by telephone.
After a few hours of scrutiny, EU officials will brief and discuss the document with diplomats from the EU’s 27 remaining countries. The meeting starts at 6.30 p.m. Brussels time and could last more than two hours. It’s here that the first proper indication of what the bloc thinks of the blueprint will emerge.
EU Officials Don’t Like the Plan So Far (11 a.m.)
The reaction in Brussels to Johnson’s plan, as reported so far, is downbeat. Officials said it fails on two key measures — the need to avoid checks on the island of Ireland and to protect the single market.
The question now is whether this really is the final offer — as Johnson says — or is it an opening move. In any case, there’s skepticism that the divide can be bridged in time, according to officials speaking privately.
Opposition Parties Meet Again (10:45 a.m.)
Opposition parties are meeting again on Wednesday. So far no action plan has been decided as different factions have different ideas about how to stop Johnson pursuing a no-deal exit.
The Scottish National Party wants a vote of no-confidence now. Labour doesn’t think that’s the right approach.
“This is a PM that is clearly not doing things by the book,” SNP member of Parliament David Linden told Sky.
Varadkar’s Limited Room for Maneuver (9:25 a.m.)
Even if Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar wanted to embrace Boris Johnson’s reported proposals to break the Brexit deadlock — and there’s no sign he does — he has little scope to do so.
The biggest opposition party, Fianna Fail, which keeps his administration in power, called the reported plans “unacceptable and unworkable,” echoing the Irish government’s initial response to the leaked proposals last night.
We may hear similar language when Varadkar is questioned in parliament at his weekly round of leaders’ question at noon in Dublin.
Coveney Is Not Encouraged (9:20 a.m.)
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney reiterated that what he has seen of Boris Johnson’s proposals are not encouraging.
“Essentially, if he’s proposing customs checks on the island of Ireland then I don’t think that’s going to be the basis of an agreement,” he told Sky News.
Tory Chairman Urges EU Flexibility (Earlier)
Conservative Chairman James Cleverly refused to confirm any details about Boris Johnson’s Brexit blueprint in a series of media interviews, but said the plan is deliverable and the European Union now needs to move.
“This is a serious set of proposals which are a credible way forward,” Cleverly told the BBC. “If some pragmatism and flexibility can be applied by the EU, and if British politicians who have said that they will vote for a deal if one is presented stick to their word, then we can leave on Oct. 31 with a deal.”
Cleverly also doubled down on his warning this week that there may be civil unrest if Brexit isn’t delivered, telling BBC Radio 4 that voters “may regard disappointment in that as a trigger to use other methods to initiate change.”
Patel: U.K. Not Planning for Post-Brexit Disorder (Earlier)
Home Secretary Priti Patel said that while the government is preparing for “every Brexit scenario,” she’s not planning for any disorder if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal.
“If we have to leave with no deal, we’ll be ready to leave with no deal,” Patel told LBC radio on Wednesday. “That is the purpose of all the work that we are undertaking in government right now.”
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–With assistance from Kitty Donaldson, Tim Ross and Dara Doyle.
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