UK would need EU help to get transition period under no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson admits

Written by Matt Honeycombe-Foster on 25 June 2019 in News

Johnson said that avoiding a hard Irish border and high trade tariffs in a no deal scenario was "not just up to us"

Boris Johnson - Image credit: PA

Boris Johnson has acknowledged that there could be no transition period under a no-deal Brexit without the help of the European Union.

The Conservative leadership frontrunner told the BBC that avoiding a hard Irish border and high trade tariffs in the event Britain leaves the EU without a deal was "not just up to us".

Johnson has been criticised by a string of Cabinet ministers after he told a Tory leadership hustings this weekend: "You solve the problem of free movement of goods across the Irish and Northern Irish and other borders to where they logically belong, and that is in the context of the free trade agreement that we’ll negotiate in the implementation period, after we’ve come out on 31 October."

The implementation period, part of the deal Theresa May negotiated with the EU, would see the UK temporarily stay in the single market and the customs union for two years after it officially leaves the bloc.

But May told the House of Commons on Monday: "If we leave without a deal, there is no Withdrawal Agreement and therefore no implementation period."

Speaking to the BBC's Laura Kuennsberg, Johnson admitted that "some kind of agreement" was needed "to get an implementation period".

While he said the UK Government was "never going to impose checks or a hard border of any kind in Northern Ireland", he said: "It's not just up to us, it's up to the other side as well.

"And there is an element of course, a very important element of mutuality and co-operation in this.

"And we will be working with our friends and partners to make sure that we have an outcome that is manifestly in the interests of people, of businesses, communities on both sides of the channel."

Johnson, who has pledged to take Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal on 31 October, also told the broadcaster he did not want to "end up" with a no-deal Brexit.

"It is not where I believe for a moment we will end up," he said.

"But in order to get the result that we want, in order to get the deal we need... the commonsensical thing to do is to prepare for a WTO exit."

On Monday senior Conservatives broke ranks to say they would be willing to try and bring down the Government in a vote of no confidence rather than allow Britain to leave the EU without a deal.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood predicted that "a dozen or so" Tory MPs could vote against the next prime minister in such circumstances.

But Johnson insisted he could get a no-deal Brexit through Parliament because of the "mortal retribution" facing MPs if Britain does not quit the EU.

"I think Parliament now understands that the British people want us to come out and to honour the mandate that they gave us," he said.

"And I think that MPs on both sides of the House also understand that they will face mortal retribution from the electorate unless we get on and do it."

He added: "Again, what has changed since 29 March is that my beloved party is down at 17 points in the polls.

"Labour isn't doing much better as I say with superhuman incompetence Corbyn managed to go backwards in the recent council elections.

"People want to get this thing done. They want to get it done sensibly."

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