Boris Johnson has claimed he can achieve an “orderly, managed Brexit” on deadline by ditching the Northern Irish backstop in favour of “alternative arrangements”.
Giving an extensive BBC interview after facing criticism for ducking media scrutiny, the Conservative leadership frontrunner insisted he was not aiming for a no-deal Brexit.
“I think that we can get to a situation in which we are able to leave smoothly with an orderly, managed Brexit, and that’s what we should be aiming for,” he told the World at One. “But the only way to make sure that we convince our partners that we’re determined to get that outcome is to prepare for no deal – and I think people do understand that.”
Asked what he would do about the backstop, which he described as “that prison, that Hobson’s choice”, Johnson pointed to the Brady amendment. Passed by parliament in January, with the support of the government, the amendment called for the backstop to be replaced with unspecified “alternative arrangements” – although the government then tried to renegotiate this with Brussels and failed.
Johnson suggested this could be the “maximum facilitation” approach he advocated while in Theresa May’s cabinet, from which he resigned over her Chequers deal last summer.