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Boris Johnson slaps down Sajid Javid and insists Brexit by 31 October still 'possible'

Boris Johnson slaps down Sajid Javid and insists Brexit by 31 October still 'possible'
4 min read

Boris Johnson has insisted it is still "possible" for Britain to leave the EU on 31 October - just hours after Sajid Javid ruled out doing so.

The Prime Minister said he remained "totally against" Brexit taking place after the Halowe'en deadline.

But his comments come after the Chancellor painted a gloomy picture of Britain's prospects for leaving, saying the Brexit date "can’t be met".

The European Union on Friday agreed on the need to delay the current 31 October deadline after Mr Johnson was forced by Parliament to request an extension.

However, EU leaders remain split on how much time to grant the UK.

European Council President Donald Tusk has called for three-month extension to the Article 50 process, but French President Emmanuel Macron is pressing for a shorter delay in a bid to pressure MPs to back Mr Johnson's Brexit deal.

Speaking on Monday morning, Mr Javid told the BBC that the UK had done "everything possible to leave" by the current deadline.

But he conceded: "We got that deal that everybody said that we couldn’t get, we planned extremely carefully for a no-deal outcome just in case.

"But because of the actions of Parliament, and especially of Jeremy Corbyn, we’ve had more dither and more delay, and now we have to accept we won’t be able to leave on 31 October, because Parliament has requested an extension and although we haven’t heard back from the EU yet it’s likely."

And he said of the date: "It can’t be met because Parliament has asked for an extension and the EU, although it hasn’t formally responded, I think everyone expects an extension from them and when that happens we won’t be able to leave on the 31st."

However, Mr Johnson said it was still "possible" for the UK to meet that pledge, in comments that appeared to put him at odds with the Chancellor.

"At the moment it’s up to the EU to decide whether or not they’re going to give us an extension," he said.

"As things stand we can leave on 31 October. Parliament has decided to ask Brussels to keep us in the EU, that’s not my policy it’s not something I support."

Mr Johnson added: "I'm totally against it. We should be leaving on 31 October.

“At the moment the EU is trying to make up its mind what to do, we should be leaving on 31 October."

Pressed on the Chancellor's comments, Mr Johnson said: "Of course 31 October is still possible, we could leave on 31 October.

"Unfortunately it depends on what the EU says, we’re in a situation now in which under the terms of the surrender act that was passed by Parliament it is up to the EU to decide how long that extension will be."


A European Commission spokesperson on Friday revealed that EU leaders have now backed the "principle of an extension" - but will decide on the length of any delay in the "coming days".

"What I can tell you is that the EU27 have agreed to the principle of an extension and work will now continue in the coming days," the European Commission’s chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.

"The intention is to take this decision by a written procedure."

Mr Johnson's comments on the Brexit deadline come after the Treasury was forced to shelve plans for a 6 November Budget as the Prime Minister continues to press his case for a 12 December snap election.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, Labour - which remains deeply divided on whether or not to back a snap poll - would need to throw its weight behind a bid to trigger an election.

But party leader Jeremy Corbyn told ITV on Friday that he would continue to await the outcome of EU talks before deciding how to respond.

"I hope the EU grants an extension," he said.

"We’ll know later today or maybe over the weekend... But my position is we’ve got to get no-deal taken off the table first."

The Labour leader added: "Providing the Prime Minister comes to Parliament on Monday and makes it absolutely clear he is going to make sure that there is no crash out – because his deal includes the possibility a no-deal exit… If he comes on Monday and says that, then ok."

But he said the 12 December election date proposed by Mr Johnson remained "really odd for many reasons", adding: "It’s near Christmas, it's after many universities end their terms for Christmas." 

Asked whether he would only back an election taking place after December, Mr Corbyn said: "Maybe before 12 December. I don’t know what the date is going to end up being."

But Mr Johnson warned: "We can bring back the Withdrawal bill, we can discuss it again in Parliament, we can have more debates on Brexit if that’s what he really wants - but they’ve got to agree a deadline, because nobody will believe that the Labour party is really going to allow Brexit to happen unless there is a deadline of an election on December 12."


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