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Thu, 4 June 2020

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Tory Brexiteer Boris Johnson 'will refuse to campaign in European elections'

Tory Brexiteer Boris Johnson 'will refuse to campaign in European elections'
3 min read

Boris Johnson will not campaign for the Conservatives in upcoming elections to the European Parliament, it has been reported.


Britain is now on course to take part in the elections after European leaders handed Theresa May a Brexit delay of up to six months.

The Prime Minister has said she will continue to try and get a deal through the British parliament by 22 May in order to avoid the country having to take part in the EU vote slated for the following day.

But a source close to Mr Johnson told The Times: "Boris won’t campaign in European elections.

"He believes the prospect of the UK fielding candidates is utterly preposterous."

The intervention comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted that taking part in the fresh elections to the European Parliament, where Britain holds 73 of 751 seats, would be "pointless".

"Clearly nobody wants to fight the European elections," he told the BBC.

The frontbencher added: "It feels like a pointless exercise and the only way we can avoid that is by getting a deal agreed and done quickly, and if we can do that by 22 May, we can avoid fighting the European parliamentary elections."

On Friday former Ukip leader Nigel Farage formally launched his new Brexit Party with a vow to "put the fear of God" into MPs by topping next month's poll.

A poll published this week by the Open Europe think tank found that fewer than one in four (23% of) voters plan to back the Tories if the elections take place, while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party would rake in 38% of the vote.

STARMER 'AN IDEOLOGUE'

The Government is meanwhile continuing talks with Labour about a possible Brexit deal in the hope of striking a deal that can break the deadlock in parliament and swerve the European elections.

The latest discussions have been described as "constructive" by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, although The Telegraph reports that some figures on the Government side have clashed with Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.

A source told the paper: "The greatest ideologue is Keir, he has strong views on Brexit and a second referendum. We get the impression he would be quite happy for Brexit not to happen."

But a Labour source pushed back, saying the Government had refused "to offer anything substantially different to a deal that has been rejected no less than three times by Parliament".

Jeremy Corbyn's party pushing for the Government to try and join a permanent customs union with the European Union, a shift that would enrage many eurosceptics in Mrs May's party because it runs directly counter to the Conservatives' 2017 manifesto.

The Labour leader will tell the Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno on Saturday that voters are becoming increasingly sick of the entire Brexit process.

"When the focus of our national conversation is dominated by baffling procedures in parliament and when nothing seems to change, I understand why people feel frustrated," he is expected to say.

Mr Corbyn will add: "People watch the back and forth in parliament. They see the arcane procedure and hear the alien language. It’s another world. For me, that’s not what real politics is about.

"Real politics comes from the ground up. Real politics is about the nitty gritty of life in your community, on your street. It’s about the reality of your life at work."

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