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Thu, 13 August 2020

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Boris Johnson says he is 'absolutely' sorry for missing 31 October Brexit deadline

Boris Johnson says he is 'absolutely' sorry for missing 31 October Brexit deadline
3 min read

Boris Johnson has apologised for failing to fulfil his promise to get Brexit done by 31 October.


The Prime Minister said he was "absolutely" sorry for the fresh delay as he urged voters to back him in the 12 December snap election.

Mr Johnson was forced to request a three-month extension to the UK's Hallowe'en EU exit deadline after MPs refused to back his Brexit deal by a 19 October legal deadline.

The move means the UK could now leave the EU as late as 31 January.

The Conservative leader - who previously vowed to quit the bloc "come what may" by 31 October - hit out at MPs in an interview with Sky News' Sophy Ridge.

"We got Parliament to say it was a good deal, but then they refused to implement it," he said. 

"And actually... there was bags of time between that vote to, when they first said it was a good deal, and when they could have got us out on 31 October." 

But, asked whether he should personally take responsibility for the delay, Mr Johnson said: "Well, I do. I do and I’m deeply, deeply disappointed."

Pressed on whether he was sorry for the delay, the Prime Minister said: "Yes, absolutely."

And he added: "It’s a matter of deep regret."

The Prime Minister meanwhile hit back at US President Donald Trump after he claimed the UK’s EU deal could scupper hopes a post-Brexit trade deal.

The US President had warned that "under certain aspects" of Mr Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement the US "can’t make a trade deal with the UK".

President Trump said: "Boris wants to be very careful with that, because under certain ways we’re precluded, which would be ridiculous."

But Mr Johnson pushed back again that interpretation from the American commander-in-chief.

“I don’t wish to cast any aspersions on the President of the United States, but in that respect he is patently in error," the Prime Minister said.

"Anybody who looks at our deal can see it is a great deal and what it does, is it allows us to take back control of our money, our borders and our laws. But, also, it allows us to have full unfettered control of our tariff schedules."

'EXTREMELY SIMPLE'

Mr Johnson also insisted that trade talks with the European Union "should be extremely simple" as he again ruled out extending the post-Brexit transition period, which will keep the UK closely aligned to the EU until the end of 2020.

"We start our negotiations in a state of perfect alignment," he said.

"We already have zero tariffs and zero quotas. We already have full regulatory and legislative alignment. So the negotiations, in principle, should be extremely simple. I see no reason whatever why we should extend the transition period."

And he declined to name the "naughtiest" thing he had ever done for fear of it being "terminally politically damaging".

His predecessor Theresa May told ITV in the run-up to the 2017 election that she "used to run through fields of wheat" as a child.

But the Tory leader said: "I’ll tell you what, Sophy, I’ll make you this promise. If I can think, if I can think of some answer about the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done that is, that is both interesting and not terminally politically damaging, I will try and provide it for you the next time we meet."

The interview came as the Government outlined plans to end the working-age benefits freeze and boost pensions as the race for Number 10 continues.

A string of polls show that the Tories continues to lead Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, although some have indicated that the opposition leader is closing the gap on the Conservatives.

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