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Brexit: Boris Johnson hits back at Donald Tusk over ‘Mr No Deal’ claim | Politics News



Boris Johnson has sought to place the blame for a potential no-deal Brexit at the feet of the Europeans as he touched down in Biarritz for his first global summit as UK prime minister.

The newly appointed Mr Johnson told reporters he didn’t want a no-deal but said the Irish backstop had to be removed from the withdrawal agreement in order to avoid that outcome.

“As I made absolutely clear, I don’t want a no-deal Brexit but I say to our EU friends if they don’t want no-deal they have got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty,” he said in a briefing to journalists on his prime ministerial aeroplane.

Tusk: I will not cooperate with no-deal Brexit

He also hit back at European Council President Donald Tusk’s remarks that the new British PM should try to avoid a legacy of being “Mr No Deal Brexit”.

“If Donald Tusk doesn’t want to go down in history as Mr No Deal Brexit then I hope this point will be borne in mind by him too.”

The spat came after Mr Tusk warned Mr Johnson that the EU would not cooperate on a managed no-deal exit from the EU.

“The one thing I will not cooperate on is no-deal,” said Mr Tusk. “And I still hope that PM Johnson will not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal. We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all member states including Ireland, if and when the UK government is ready to put them on the table.”

Mr Tusk’s remarks echo those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who both told Mr Johnson this week that they were prepared to talk further on trying to agree a Brexit deal while reaffirming their commitment to the backstop, with the French president insisting that it was “indefensible” to any Brexit deal.

Mrs Merkel was a little more emollient, saying she was prepared to see whether the UK could find a workable solution in the next 30 days that would satisfy Brussels, London and Dublin.

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Mr Johnson is demanding an overhaul of the withdrawal agreement finalised between the EU and Theresa May aimed at removing the backstop, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The prime minister said he was “powerfully encouraged” by his meeting with German chancellor but added that it would take a lot of “hard work” to get any agreement across the line ahead of exit day on 31 October.

But the EU27’s willingness to re-open talks does at least give Mr Johnson some breathing space back home with those opposed to no-deal.

He can powerfully argue that he needs time to negotiate a new deal with the EU as parliament eyes whether to bring forward legislation to demand another Brexit extension or even force a vote of no confidence in his government.

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