UK No-Deal for Brexit
On Tuesday (June 25), Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and popular UK Prime Minister candidate, told the public in an interview that he believes the British parliament will now support Brexit with even with a no-deal approach. Johnson commented that “I think Parliament now understands that the British people want us to come out. And I think that MPs on both sides of the House also understand that they will face mortal retribution from the electorate unless we get on and do it.” In his view, the backlash that both the Conservative Party and opposition Labour Party received during the European elections allowed more members of parliament to decide to get Brexit done, even if it embraces a no-deal.
However, this was defended by some senior figures in the Conservative Party who warned they could stop a non-agreement Brexit. Tobias Ellwood, the Defence Minister, told the BBC that he was certain he had the numbers to stop a no-deal Brexit. In an earlier interview, the Defence Minister said, “I think a dozen or so members of Parliament would be on our side, would be voting against supporting a no deal, and that would include ministers as well as backbenchers.” Moreover, Ken Clarke, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer even threatened to vote against the government in a confidence vote if it is necessary.
The conflict on the issue of Brexit
The U.K. political sphere had experienced an “awkward moment”, Prime Minister Theresa May resigned on 7 June. Earlier in March, May committed to stepping down as Prime Minister which was related to her repeated attempts to achieve a Brexit deal. In the past three years, May completed an impossible task on forming the draft of the complicated “Brexit Agreement” with the EU after a series of tough negotiations. However, there are significant differences of opinion inside the Conservative Party and within the UK on the issue of “Bremain” and “Brexit”, “soft off” and “hard off”. In 2018, the “May Brexit” caused serious confrontation within the cabinet and inside parliament.
One of the issues is the border issue between Northern Ireland and Ireland has not been resolved. After Brexit, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would not have borders, making Northern Ireland still a member in the EU single market and tariffs.
Moreover, the U.S. president Donald Trump criticized Theresa May’s Brexit policy publicly, in allowing the EU “to have all the cards” in the negotiations. Last July, when President Trump first visited the U.K. he indicated that the way Theresa May treated the EU was “too weak” with regards to the issue of Brexit. Trump even warned that keeping the U.K. in the European single market would prevent the U.K. from maintaining closer trade relations with the U.S. At the beginning of this month, Trump expressed his support of Conservative MP Boris Johnson and Brexit leader Nigel Farage in his second visit to the UK. He commented these two hard Brexit supporters “did a good job”. In the end, May has chosen to resign after her plan was rejected for the third time in parliament.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy
In the interview, Boris Johnson told BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that regardless of whether an agreement was reached or not, he will ensure a plan to deliver Brexit by end of October. He said his pledge is to leave the European Union on October 31. In terms of the Irish border, the former foreign minister stated that “nobody believes the hard border will be necessary, there are abundant technical fixes”. As a leader of the hard-line Brexiters, Mr Johnson has been constantly criticising Theresa May’s Brexit agreement. He even resigned as the foreign minister in July 2018, because of the disagreement with May on her Brexit policy.
Although the focus of Johnson’s campaign is Brexit, Jeremy Hunt suggested to the BBC that there is “no trust” in Boris Johnson to fulfil his promises. Hunt is a candidate for Leader of the Conservative Party and has served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 2018. He described the scheduled 31st of October was a “fake deadline” and announced to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement with an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop. In his view, this is an approach “not too different to what Boris wants”. Nonetheless, Borris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will start a decisive battle, with the final result to be announced soon after July 22nd.
By Steven Gao
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