EXPRESS.CO.UK POLL: If no deal is off the table, what should Boris do? VOTE HERE
Sept. 11, 2019
THE BREXIT deadline is just seven weeks away and Boris Johnson’s options are becoming increasingly limited. This week Parliament passed a law that effectively blocks a no deal Brexit, so if the Prime Minister is unable to pursue a hard Brexit - which of the other options would you choose?
Boris Johnson has suffered a handful of colossal defeats in the Commons since coming to power, as Remainers successfully passed a law that aims to block the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. The Hilary Benn Act could also force the Prime Minister to request a Brexit extension on October 19, if MPs have not approved a Withdrawal Agreement by that date, pushing the deadline back to January 31, 2020. So with no deal off the table, what options are available to Mr Johnson and what one do you think he should choose?
Mr Johnson currently has three options available to him.
The first is to pursue his predecessor Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement but this deal would be unlikely to achieve parliamentary success as MPs have already defeated the Bill three times.
Alternatively the Prime Minister could ask the EU for an extension, something Mr Johnson has repeatedly ruled out.
Last week, Mr Johnson said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than agree to extend Brexit and vowed not to go back to Brussels to request a delay.
Even if Mr Johnson did go against his word, there is no guarantee that the extended date would be at the end of January 2020 as Brussels would hold all the cards.
EU leaders could attach conditions to an extension, with the prevision extension agreement including the clause that there would be “no reopening of the withdrawal agreement”.
They would also be able to dictate the time limit - which could mean delays of up to 21 months.
Current EU leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have argued for longer extension to allow Britain time to resolve the crisis and prevent the EU from being bogged down by Brexit.
The third option would be to rework the Irish backstop to secure a last-minute deal from the EU to put before Parliament.
The alternative backstop arrangement, dubbed the “all-Ireland” plan, is a tweaked version of the Irish backstop under Mrs May’s deal.
Instead of requiring the whole of the Uk to remain in a customs union with the EU, “unless and until” alternative arrangements were developed - just Northern Ireland would be kept in the customs union.
But even this version, seen by some as the “Northern Ireland-only backstop” is unpopular, as it will require a border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and would see intrusive checks on good travelling between the two.
The DUP, which had been propping up the Government, has heavily denounced the all-Ireland plan.
On Tuesday the party’s leader Arlene Foster met with Mr Johnson to discuss the plans and after the meeting she said the Prime Minister had rejected the Northern Ireland-only backstop.
Ms Foster said: “The prime minister rejected a Northern Ireland-only backstop in a letter to Donald Tusk [European Council president] on August 19th.
“It is undemocratic and unconstitutional and would place a tariff border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. That would be unacceptable.
“During today’s meeting, the Prime Minister confirmed his rejection of the Northern Ireland-only backstop and his commitment to securing a deal which works for the entire United Kingdom as well as our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.”
But Mr Johnson could go against this, as the Tories no longer rely on DUP support for a working majority following the expulsion of 21 MPs and the defection of two others last week.
The Tories currently hold 288 seats, 38 seats short of a parliamentary majority.