Johnson sees EU caving in on Brexit: Paper

EU will yield at last minute to prevent no-deal exit in order to 'save Ireland', Sun cites source

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes the European Union will cave in at the last minute and do a Brexit deal with him to "save Ireland", The Sun newspaper reported on Monday citing a source.

A no-deal Brexit would hurt Ireland the most and Mr Johnson is convinced European leaders will budge over the key issue of the so-called Irish backstop, The Sun said.

The EU has said it is not prepared to reopen the divorce deal it agreed with Mr Johnson's predecessor Theresa May, which includes the backstop - an insurance policy to prevent the return to a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

Currently, goods moving between Northern Ireland and Ireland do not have to be inspected for Customs and standards since both are members of the EU.

There are also few signs of a physical border between both sides since the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, a part of the peace process ending the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

Separately, a majority of Britons believe Mr Johnson must take Britain out of the EU "by any means", even if that involves suspending Parliament, an opinion poll conducted for the Daily Telegraph said on Monday.

Mr Johnson has promised to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct 31, regardless of whether he manages to secure an exit deal with Brussels, despite many in Parliament being opposed to leaving without a deal.

The impasse leaves Britain facing an exit without any formal transition period or legal agreement covering issues such as trade, data and border policy.

A ComRes opinion poll showed 54 per cent of respondents said they agreed with the statement: "Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending Parliament, if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it."

Mr Johnson is seeking a deal with the EU but has not ruled out suspending Parliament to prevent lawmakers' attempts to block a no-deal exit.

The poll showed 46 per cent disagreed with the statement. The result was based on the answers of 1,645 respondents, after those who said they did not know their preference had been excluded.

The same survey found support for the Conservative Party had risen by 6 percentage points to 31 per cent, compared with 27 per cent who said they would back the opposition Labour Party. That result was based on 1,783 responses.

That finding is largely in line with other polls showing an increase in support for the Conservatives since Mr Johnson took over from Mrs May, who formally quit last month, having failed to deliver Brexit on schedule.

The United States has said it would enthusiastically support a no-deal Brexit if that is what the British government decided to do, US national security adviser John Bolton told reporters on Monday.

"If that is the decision of the British government, we would support it enthusiastically," he said.

Mr Bolton said Britain and the US could agree on trade deals on a sector-by-sector basis, leaving more difficult areas in the trading relationship until later.

He said the ultimate aim was a comprehensive trade deal, but highlighted that financial services could be one of the more difficult industries to reach an agreement on.

Mr Johnson had been an ardent supporter of Brexit during the lead-up to the referendum in 2016, campaigning alongside current Cabinet minister Michael Gove.

Then Prime Minister David Cameron, a "Remain" supporter, resigned the morning after the Brexit vote.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline 'Johnson sees EU caving in on Brexit: Paper'. Print Edition | Subscribe