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Boris Johnson vows to get UK 'match fit' for no-deal Brexit as MPs launch bid to block 'mayhem'

3 min read

Boris Johnson has promised to get the UK "match fit" to leave the European Union without a deal if he becomes Prime Minister - as MPs prepared a fresh attempt to thwart his plans.

Writing for the Brexit Central website, the Conservative leadership frontrunner insisted that the current 31 October departure date was a "real deadline" and pledged to ensure the UK had enough "fiscal firepower" to handle the effects of of leaving with no withdrawal agreement in place.

His vow came ahead of a renewed Commons bid on Monday to block the "economic mayhem" of a no-deal Brexit by amending key legislation on Northern Ireland.

Both Mr Johnson and his Tory rival Jeremy Hunt have said they would be prepared to leave the EU without a deal if they cannot renegotiate changes to the withdrawal agreement drawn up by Theresa May and the EU.

However, Mr Hunt has said he would be open to extending the 31 October deadline if a deal with Brussels was in sight.

Mr Johnson said Britain had already "dithered and delayed" on Brexit - a move that had left the country "humiliated".

"We need a change of direction," he said. "That’s why we must treat 31 October as a real deadline for leaving the EU, come what may, not a fake one."

He added: "I want a deal. I believe our European friends want one and they will be in no doubt that we are serious because we will prepare all-out for no deal."

The former Foreign Secretary meanwhile argued that Brussels, which has repeatedly said it will not reopen talks on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, would "quickly see where things stand" and agree to discuss the issue of the Irish border in talks on the future trading relationship between Britain and the EU.

But he added: "If our friends feel they cannot agree, then we will be match fit for no deal. We will have the fiscal firepower to support business and agriculture.

"We will be free to substantially diverge on tax and regulation. I don’t know about you, but I have had enough of being told that we cannot do it — that the sixth biggest economy in the world is not strong enough to run itself and go forward in the world."

On Monday ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve will launch his latest effort to block a no-deal Brexit by amending the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill.

The amendment is expected to oblige ministers to make a statement to the House of Commons in October on progress in restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Such a move would prevent the next Prime Minister from proroguing Parliament to try and force a no-deal Brexit past MPs - a move that Mr Johnson has yet to rule out.

Mr Grieve told the BBC: "Northern Ireland and Brexit go rather closely together. The chances are, if Brexit goes through – a no-deal Brexit – it is going to be the end of Northern Ireland’s union with the United Kingdom, with serious political consequences flowing from it."

Former minister Sam Gyimah meanwhile warned there were now "30-plus" Tory MPs who are actively discussing Parliamentary tactics to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

He told Sky News: "It’s not about Leave or Remain. What this is about is staving off economic mayhem."

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