Boris Johnson heading for ‘biggest crisis of Brexit to date’ in 2020, former ambassador Ivan Rogers warns
Boris Johnson is heading for the “biggest crisis of Brexit to date” in 2020, according to the UK’s former ambassador to the EU.
Sir Ivan Rogers accused the Prime Minister of engaging in “diplomatic amateurism” and repeating the mistakes of Theresa May by claiming a long-term trade deal can be agreed with Brussels in less than 12 months.
The ex-senior diplomat said the prospect of talks breaking down before the end of 2020 "is much likelier than people realise" and would result in the UK leaving with no agreement in place.
In a speech at the University of Glasgow he said: “In practice, this Prime Minister is, for all his talk of getting Brexit done, now basically replicating the strategy errors of 2016 and 2017, which brought his predecessor down.
“This is diplomatic amateurism dressed up domestically as boldness and decisiveness.”
Sir Ivan, who resigned as the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU in January 2017, said the crisis was “virtually inevitable” as there was “no escape from ball-achingly technical and lengthy negotiations” on the small print of free-trade deals.
But Chancellor Sajid Javid has insisted he has “no doubt” such an agreement can be negotiated before December 31, 2020, when the Brexit transition period is due to end.
Mr Rogers said although he was aware this “makes me the rather forbidding Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come”, the UK should be braced for “a repetition of exactly the syndrome we have suffered” for the last three years.
And he said the pressure to “get Brexit done” - a key campaign pledge of the Prime Minister - will mean Mr Johnson will have to make “a lot of concessions” to the EU secure any deal by the end of the year.
The ex-ambassador was also critical of Jeremy Corbyn, saying his plan to stay neutral in a second referendum “frankly deserves the Brussels eye-rolling it duly gets”.
And he attacked Remainers "who think the clock can be put back" saying they were "in denial about where mainstream continental elite opinion is".
In response, the Liberal Democrats' Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “Boris Johnson’s promise to get Brexit done has been exposed as the sham it is.
“His plan would either lead to a catastrophic no deal in 2020 or years more chaos and damaging uncertainty."
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