May deal will leave UK ‘in chains’ says Boris

Daily Express - - The Battle - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

BORIS Johnson in­flamed Tory Brexit in­fight­ing last night by un­veil­ing his own blue­print for lead­ing Bri­tain out of the cri­sis over Theresa May’s pro­posed deal.

Sig­nalling his readi­ness for a lead­er­ship chal­lenge, the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary de­clared that the na­tion was cry­ing out for “gump­tion” over the UK’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the EU.

And he ac­cused the Prime Minister of pur­su­ing a “sado-masochis­tic ap­proach” that could leave Bri­tain “locked up in chains”.

Mr Johnson broke cover yesterday as Mrs May was warned by al­lies she had just 48 hours to save her Brexit With­drawal Agree­ment and her premier­ship. MPs are due to vote on it on Tues­day and she is ex­pected to lose.

In an in­ter­view with pop­u­lar grass­roots web­site Con­ser­va­tive Home, Mr Johnson called for a “gen­er­ous, op­ti­mistic, en­er­getic” rene­go­ti­a­tion to win “a big free trade agree­ment” with­out the con­tro­ver­sial “back­stop” North­ern Ire­land border mech­a­nism that could tie the UK into close cus­toms links with Brus­sels.

Promised

He in­sisted the UK should refuse to hand over the promised £39bil­lion di­vorce fee un­til the EU of­fers bet­ter terms and said Bri­tish ne­go­tia­tors should show they are not afraid of trade links with the bloc based on World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion rules – in ef­fect a No Deal exit.

He said: “I don’t want to pre­tend to the pub­lic there would be no dis­rup­tion at all. I don’t want to pre­tend there would be no chal­lenges at all.

“But what peo­ple I think want to see is a bit of gump­tion from this coun­try and a bit of will­ing­ness to tackle those problems, and a bit of lead­er­ship.

“And I think peo­ple are fed up of be­ing told their coun­try can’t do some­thing and we’re all in­ca­pable of sort­ing out these lo­gis­ti­cal problems.”

De­ploy­ing char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally colour­ful lan­guage, Mr Johnson at­tacked the Prime Minister’s ne­go­ti­a­tion say­ing: “The man­a­cles have been co-forged, if you like, by us. We have de­cided to col­lab­o­rate in our own in­car­cer­a­tion.

“It’s un­be­liev­able. It’s a kind of S&M ap­proach to Gov­ern­ment. What perver­sion is it where you want to be locked up in chains?”

The for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary con­tin­ued: “What she needs to do, or what the Gov­ern­ment needs to do, is go back to Brus­sels and make it very clear that Par­lia­ment has not ac­cepted the With­drawal Agree­ment.

“This deal is a dis­as­ter for our coun­try. It ba­si­cally means the EU can black­mail us into any terms they like in the course of the ne­go­ti­a­tions on our fu­ture.”

The Prime Minister and se­nior Cab­i­net min­is­ters were ex­pected to spend this week­end bom­bard­ing Tory MPs with phone calls, emails and text mes­sages to try to win their back­ing.

She dis­patched 30 min­is­ters in­clud­ing Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond and Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock around the coun­try yesterday to try to per­suade vot­ers to put pres­sure on MPs.

And in a fur­ther bid to win over rebels ahead of the vote min­is­te­rial sources sig­nalled that the Gov­ern­ment was ready to back an amend­ment that would seek to limit the con­tro­ver­sial back­stop North­ern Ire­land border mech­a­nism to a max­i­mum of a year.

But Mrs May was warned that more front­benchers may quit on Tues­day un­less dras­tic changes are made to her deal. Mike Wood, the par­lia­men­tary pri­vate sec­re­tary to In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox, said he would quit his post un­less the back­stop was over­hauled, adding that other aides were con­sid­er­ing their po­si­tions.

A joint let­ter signed by 32 se­nior Tory ac­tivists de­manded the im­me­di­ate end to party fund­ing for “pro­pa­ganda” leaflets in sup­port of Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

And Euroscep­tic group Lawyers for Bri­tain warned in a re­port that de­tailed anal­y­sis of the With­drawal Agree­ment showed North­ern Ire­land would re­main sub­ject to more than 300 EU laws af­ter Brexit and would ef­fec­tively be ruled by a “for­eign power”.

Pic­tures: PETER MACDIARMID / LNP, STEVE REIGATE, JONATHAN BUCKMASTER, PETER CORNS

Pray­ing for suc­cess? Theresa May at a church in her con­stituency yesterday

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