PM’S ‘TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT’ BREXIT DEAL TO EU

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Macer Hall and Sam Lis­ter

BORIS John­son will to­day make his fi­nal of­fer of a Brexit deal to the EU.

As he un­veils the lon­gawaited de­tails of his new di­vorce pro­posal, the Prime Min­is­ter will in­sist his blue­print is a “fair and rea­son­able com­pro­mise”.

Vow­ing to fi­nally bring the Brexit wran­gle to a con­clu­sion, he will also sig­nal that ne­go­ti­a­tions will be im­me­di­ately can­celled if the EU re­fuses to dis­cuss his of­fer se­ri­ously.

In his first key­note speech as the

party leader, the Prime Min­is­ter will tell the Tory con­fer­ence: “Let’s get Brexit done on Oc­to­ber 31 so in 2020, our coun­try can move on.”

He will also hit out at the “forces in this coun­try” who are seek­ing to stop Brexit, warn­ing that vot­ers are becoming fed up of “be­ing taken for fools”.

The le­gal texts for a new deal – drawn up in the 70 days since Mr John­son took charge – will be pre­sented to Brus­sels this af­ter­noon.

Down­ing Street of­fi­cials made clear the doc­u­ments will rep­re­sent his fi­nal of­fer for a deal and said the EU will not be given the op­tion of a Brexit de­lay.

In his speech, Mr John­son is ex­pected to say: “Vot­ers are des­per­ate for us to fo­cus on their other pri­or­i­ties. What peo­ple want – what Leavers want, what Re­main­ers want, what the whole world wants – is to move on.

“That is why we are com­ing out of the EU on Oc­to­ber 31. Let’s get Brexit done – we can, we must and we will.”

Hes­i­tant

It emerged last night that EU lead­ers are con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a counter-of­fer that in­volves keep­ing the Ir­ish back­stop bor­der mech­a­nism, but putting a time limit on it.

The move is cer­tain to be re­jected by the Prime Min­is­ter, who has in­sisted that re­mov­ing the back­stop – which could keep the UK tied into a cus­toms union – is his red-line de­mand in the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Un­der the plan be­ing dis­cussed in Brus­sels, North­ern Ire­land would be kept in the EU’s cus­toms union for a lim­ited pe­riod of time if a free trade deal and bor­der ar­range­ment can­not agreed by the end of next year.

The time limit would be granted to al­low the Stor­mont Assem­bly a say in whether the prov­ince re­mains in the back­stop.

EU lead­ers have been hes­i­tant to of­fer the com­pro­mise be­cause of Ir­ish pre­mier Leo Varad­kar’s op­po­si­tion to the plan.

Dublin has long ar­gued that any time-lim­ited mech­a­nism would cease to be a back­stop.

The Prime Min­is­ter is also ex­pected to launch a blis­ter­ing at­tack on Jeremy Cor­byn for threat­en­ing to plunge the UK into more chaos by of­fer­ing fresh votes on the coun­try’s EU mem­ber­ship and Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence.

“Cor­byn wants to turn the whole of 2020, which should be a great year for this coun­try, into the chaos and ca­coph­ony of two more ref­er­en­dums – a se­cond ref­er­en­dum on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence, even though the peo­ple of Scot­land were promised that the 2014 vote would be a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion vote, and a se­cond ref­er­en­dum on the EU, even though we were promised that the 2016 vote would be a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion vote,” the Prime Min­is­ter will say.

“Can you imag­ine an­other three of this? That is the Cor­byn agenda – stay in the EU be­yond Oc­to­ber 31, pay­ing £1bil­lion a month for the priv­i­lege, fol­lowed by years of uncer­tainty for busi­ness and ev­ery­one else. My friends, I am afraid that af­ter three-and-a-half years, peo­ple are be­gin­ning to feel that they are be­ing taken for fools.

“They are be­gin­ning to sus­pect there are forces in this coun­try that sim­ply don’t want Brexit de­liv­ered at all. And if they turn out to be right in that sus­pi­cion, then I be­lieve there will be grave con­se­quences for trust in democ­racy.”

Down­ing Street of­fi­cials yes­ter­day warned that if Brus­sels does not en­gage with Mr John­son’s lat­est of­fer, then the Gov­ern­ment will not ne­go­ti­ate fur­ther un­til we have left the EU.

They also made it clear that the Prime Min­is­ter will in no cir­cum­years

stances ne­go­ti­ate a de­lay at the forth­com­ing EU Coun­cil sum­mit in Brus­sels on Oc­to­ber 17.

A se­nior No 10 of­fi­cial last night said: “The Gov­ern­ment is ei­ther go­ing to be ne­go­ti­at­ing a new deal or work­ing on no-deal – no­body will work on de­lay.

“We will keep fight­ing to re­spect the big­gest demo­cratic vote in British his­tory.The EU is obliged by EU law only to ne­go­ti­ate with mem­ber state gov­ern­ments.

“They can­not ne­go­ti­ate with Par­lia­ment and this gov­ern­ment will not ne­go­ti­ate de­lay.”

Mr John­son was still fi­nal­is­ing the text of his hour-long con­fer­ence speech last night. He is un­der­stood to have turned down help from speech­writ­ers, in­stead choos­ing to write the en­tire ad­dress him­self.

In con­trast to his pre­de­ces­sors – who have staff work­ing on drafts months in ad­vance – Mr John­son has worked at break-neck speed to write the speech dur­ing the Con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence.

Tough

And de­spite re­cent crit­i­cism of his forth­right ap­proach, he is not ex­pected to shy away from us­ing tough lan­guage to fight back against his op­po­nents. He will also hit out at the so-called “Sur­ren­der Act” passed by MPs in their ef­fort to block a no-deal Brexit.

In a video mes­sage pub­lished on­line last night, Mr John­son told how the Gov­ern­ment was in­vest­ing in the big­gest pro­gramme of hos­pi­tal in­fra­struc­ture in a gen­er­a­tion, as well as boost­ing broad­band and rais­ing salaries.

“We want a high wage, high skilled, low tax, high pro­duc­tiv­ity econ­omy.That’s our plan,” he said.

“We are do­ing it with in­fra­struc­ture, with tech­nol­ogy and world class ed­u­ca­tion.”

IN A pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal his­tory where some­thing “his­toric” seems to have hap­pened on a near daily ba­sis, it feels dif­fi­cult to use the ad­jec­tive. But to­day’s speech to the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence by Boris John­son will be a his­toric mo­ment – and, un­usu­ally for these times, that de­scrip­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate for pos­i­tive rea­sons.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s “take-it-or-leave-it” of­fer to the EU is not as the whin­ing and per­pet­u­ally neg­a­tive Re­main­ers may have it like some sort of Mafia boss mak­ing dark threats. In­stead, what Mr John­son is of­fer­ing the Brus­sels bu­reau­crats is a fi­nal chance at a ra­tio­nal, rea­son­able way out of this dead­lock where both sides can walk away with their hon­our in­tact and a set­tle­ment that will ben­e­fit ev­ery­body.

The al­ter­na­tive must be a clean break Brexit – or no deal as the au­thors of the “Sur­ren­der Act” term it – be­cause Mr John­son has pledged that come what may we will be leav­ing the EU on Oc­to­ber 31.

While that may cause a blip in Bri­tain which it can eas­ily re­cover from, it cer­tainly will not be the apoca­lypse de­picted by the EU’s Re­mainer friends.

On the con­trary, and par­tic­u­larly for Ire­land, it could be cat­a­strophic for the EU eco­nom­i­cally and through the gap­ing whole left in its se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence set-up.

Mr John­son’s lead­er­ship from the mo­ment he stepped into Down­ing Street has been fo­cused and ad­mirable.

He has re­fused to be de­flected by the at­tacks on his char­ac­ter, at­tempts to de­rail and block Brexit by Labour and its Re­mainer al­lies in Par­lia­ment, or the bid to shut down de­bate.

Now it is up to the EU to ac­cept com­pro­mise and be rea­son­able so that the great­est demo­cratic de­ci­sion in British his­tory can be re­spected in a way that ben­e­fits ev­ery­one.

Sa­lute...Boris John­son at the Tory con­fer­ence yes­ter­day

Cup win­ner...a beam­ing Boris proudly holds up his Brexit mug

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