Boris Johnson says no-deal Brexit would be a 'failure' ahead of crunch talks in Dublin

Posted On: 
9th September 2019

Boris Johnson has said that leaving the European Union without a deal would be a "failure of statecraft" for which he would share the blame, ahead of crunch talks with Leo Varadkar.

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar addressing the media outside Government Buildings in Dublin
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister said he would "overwhelmingly prefer" the UK quitting the bloc with an agreement, rather than to crash out.

And he said he believed it was still possible for UK and European leaders to strike a deal by 18 October, following a planned EU Council summit.

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Speaking alongside Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin, Mr Johnson said: "I want to find a deal, I want to get a deal."

"Like you, I’ve looked carefully at no-deal, I’ve assessed its consequences both for our country and for yours, and of course we could do it.

"The UK could certainly get through it, but be in no doubt, that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible and so for the sake of business, farmers and for millions of ordinary people, who are now counting on us to use our imagination and creativity to get this done I want you to know that I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement.”

His comments come as the new cross-party law forcing him to seek an extension to avoid a no-deal exit by the Halloween deadline is due to receive Royal Assent.

Mr Varadkar meanwhile reiterated to the PM that there could be no deal without Britain accepting the Irish backstop - or without "realistic" alternatives, which he said had not yet been brought to the table.

"In the absence of agreed alternative arrangements, no backstop is no deal for us," he said. 

"All it does is kick the can down the road for another 14 months, another 14 months of uncertainty for business, another 14 months of uncertainty for people north and south of the border.

"So that’s not an option that we find attractive at all.’

The Taoiseach warned that a no-deal Brexit would cause "severe disruption" for the UK and Ireland, as he also said he believed that striking an agreement by the end of next month was "possible".

“But if there is a deal, and I think it’s possible, we'll enter talks on a future relationship agreement between the EU and the UK," he added. 

"It’s going to be very tough, we have to deal with issues such as tariffs, fishing rights, product standards, state aid and it’ll then have to be ratified by 31 parliaments."

He added that Mr Johnson faced a "Herculean task" to try and strike major trade deals after Britain leaves, but added: "I do want to be your friend and your ally, your Athena in doing so and I think the manner in which you leave the EU will determine if that’s possible."