Cabinet ministers tear into Boris Johnson's plan for no-deal Brexit
Cabinet ministers have blasted Boris Johnson’s plan for no-deal Brexit, dismissing it as not a “credible” strategy.
A video posted by the Back Boris campaign, showing the leadership favourite spelling out his plans a no-deal exit, sparked backlash from colleagues quick to dispute elements of how he intends to leave the European Union without a deal.
In the video, Mr Johnson said: “You disaggregate the elements of the otherwise defunct Withdrawal Agreement...
“You reserve the payment of the £39 billion - creative ambiguity needed there until the solution...
“And then of course you solve the problem of free movement of goods across the Irish and Northern Irish and other borders to where they logically belong, and that is in the context of the Free Trade Agreement that we’ll negotiate in the implementation period, after we’ve come out on Oct 31st.”
But de facto Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington took to Twitter to dismiss the claims that a transition period could be negotiated after leaving the European Union without a deal.
Mr Lidington said: “Erm, the Implementation Period is actually part of the Withdrawal Agreement. It's in Part 4 of the Agreement, articles 126 to 132.
“No Deal exit = no Withdrawal Agreement = no Implementation Period.”
Former Tory leadership candidate and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart also backed the Cabinet minister's position, warning: “you cannot eat the cake and keep the cake”.
He said: “David Lidington understands the European negotiations better than almost anyone in our cabinet.
“As he says, in a No-Deal there will be NO implementation period. You cannot eat the cake and keep the cake.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke - a longstanding critic of plans to leave the EU without a deal - also weighed into the debate.
He said: "The implementation period is part of the withdrawal agreement. No withdrawal agreement means no implementation period."
And he added: “If your Brexit strategy involves: (a) leaving without a deal but negotiating an FTA [free trade agreement] during the implementation period; or (b) making unilateral use of Article 24 of GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] you don’t have a credible Brexit strategy.
“It’s not that difficult.”
The row came as the Sunday Times revealed that Mr Johnson could face being ousted from the top job within 24 hours of becoming the next prime minister.
According to the paper, Conservative chief whip Julian Smith told key figures in Mr Johnson's that there was a high likelihood that the leadership favourite would lose a Commons vote of no-confidence within a day of taking the job.
Two Tory MPs Guto Bebb and Philip Lee were named among those deemed “high-risk” on Mr Smith’s watchlist to defect from the party, a move that would destroy the Government’s majority in the Commons.