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Fri, 23 October 2020

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Boris Johnson says Britain will break free of EU 'shackles' like Incredible Hulk as he heads to Brussels

Boris Johnson says Britain will break free of EU 'shackles' like Incredible Hulk as he heads to Brussels
3 min read

Boris Johnson has insisted that Britain will break out of its EU "manacles" on 31 October as he compared its plight to the Incredible Hulk ahead of a trip to Brussels.

The Prime Minister told the Mail on Sunday that, like the green-skinned comic book alter-ego of Bruce Banner, the country would "explode out of" its restraints, despite MPs moving to block a no-deal Brexit.

The comments come ahead of face-to-face talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday.

Striking a defiant tone after Parliament passed legislation requiring him to delay Brexit if no deal is reached by mid-October, the Prime Minister declared: "The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets."

And he said: "Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them. Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country. We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done."

Ahead of the meeting with Mr Juncker, the Prime Minister said "very, very good" talks had already taken place between the UK and EU leaders, as he talked up the "huge" progress made since he took office. 

Mr Johnson has insisted that Brussels remove what he calls the "undemocratic" backstop arrangement designed to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland and which is included in the EU Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May.

But the EU has said it will not axe the border arrangement unless the UK can present a viable alternative.

The Prime Minister told the Mail on Sunday: "I will be talking to Jean-Claude about how we're going to do it.

"I'm very confident. When I got this job everybody was saying there can be absolutely no change to the Withdrawal Agreement, the backstop was immutable, the arrangements by which the UK was kept locked in to the EU for ever, they said no one could change that.

"They have already moved off that and, as you know, there's a very, very good conversation going on about how to address the issues of the Northern Irish border. A huge amount of progress is being made."


Number 10 sources have cautioned against viewing Monday's meeting with Mr Juncker as a "breakthrough moment", and the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday told members of the European Parliament that Britain had yet to present any "concrete proposals in writing that are legally operational" for replacing the backstop. 

But a fresh poll for The Observer suggests the Tories have been boosted by Mr Johnson's EU strategy after weeks of high drama in British politics.

The past month has seen the PM move to shut down Parliament - a decision challenged by Scotland's top civil court - and sack rebel MPs from his own party, while MPs have blocked his bid to hold a general election and legislated against a no-deal Brexit.

However, the latest Opinium study for the paper puts the Tories on 37%, up two points since last week, while Labour is unchanged on 25%. The Liberal Democrats have slipped by one point to 16%, while the Brexit Party is polling at 13%.

Meanwhile disapproval of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit response has risen, from 55% to 60% over the past week. Just 17% approve of Mr Corbyn's handling of Brexit, according to the poll, compared to 37% who approve of the PM's response and 43% who disapprove.

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