Boris Johnson had promised to deliver Brexit “come what may” as he committed to avoid further extensions to the withdrawal agreement. Mr Johnson has suggested he would be willing to modify the withdrawal agreement Theresa May struck with the European Union last year but said he would leave without a deal if a small delay was required. Speaking to BBC’s Andrew Neil on Friday, the Tory leadership frontrunner said: “I think we’ve got to come out on October 31 and I think it is very odd those who say they would delay even further.
“Can’t set another date – how much further are we going to wait? We were meant to come out on March 29, then April 8, we then delayed it for a further six months. This is leading to a huge erosion of trust in politics.
“People feel that unless the Government, unless the political parties, get their act together and come out of the EU on October 31, people will not return to the Conservative Party or indeed the Labour Party.”
Mr Johnson however said he remained confident a Government under his leadership would be able to secure a deal with Brussels before the deadline.
The former Foreign Minister has indicated he would seek to rediscuss aspects of the withdrawal deal Mrs May signed up to in October but would argue against the controversial backstop.
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He continued: “We will get a deal by October 31.
“It would be absolutely insane now to say that yet again we have a phony deadline, it all can be kicked off. I think it’s very very important to leave on October 31 come what may.
“We were mandated as a Parliament to come out of the EU and we voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50 and it’s high time we got on with it.”
Mr Johnson insisted the best solution to have Westminster agree to the divorce deal is to entirely “remove” the section dedicated to the Irish backstop. The insurance policy was originally devised to avoid the creation of a hard border on the isle of Ireland but has emerged as one of the most contentious aspects of the negotiations.
He added: “What they need to do to the Irish backstop is they need to take the 175 pages of the Irish backstop and they need to remit it, remove it, delete it.
“They need to put the solution to all the issues of frictionless trade across the Irish border and indeed elsewhere and resolve them in the context of the free trade agreement we would do after we have come out on October 31.”
Brussels has stated the backstop would serve as an indemnity should talks with the United Kingdom fail to produce a suitable arrangement on future trading relations.
The Tory leadership hopeful also suggested the United Kingdom could get around the risk of free trade with Brussels collapsing in the event of a no deal with the adoption of Article 24 of the General Tariffs and Trade Agreement (GATT) – specifically, paragraph 5b.
But when Andrew Neil asked Mr Johnson how he would bypass limitations imposed by the following paragraph, the Tory MP admitted he was not aware of the terms of passage.
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Mr Neil said: “5c says you don’t just need the EU’s approval. You need to agree with the EU the shape of a future trade agreement and a timetable to getting toward it.
“You would want to agree to the status quo for perhaps up to 10 years but you would have walked away from the agreement, you would have withdrawn the £39 billion.
“You would have refused the backstop, you would have ended free movement, you would have left the European Court – why on Earth would the EU agree to the status quo under these conditions? It’s a fantasy.”
But Mr Johnson hit back: “It’s manifestly in the interests of both sides, Andrew. After all, the EU has a very substantial net balance of trade with us, they have a considerable surplus in goods alone and they will want to continue seeing goods travel freely.”