Boris Johnson Reveals His “Final Offer” To The EU As He Plans To Suspend Parliament (Again!)

Joshua AitkenJoshua Aitken in News, UK
Published 08.10.19
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It’s been the Conservative Party conference (basically Glasto for the upper class) and Boris Johnson has been pulling out all the stops to restore confidence in his government after the party lost favour thanks to a tiny issue called Brexit.

Things got off to a pretty sweet start when Boris’ next door neighbour, the Chancellor Sajid Javid, announced plans to increase the minimum wage for everyone over 21 to £10.50. As for under 21’s? Well I’m afraid things don’t look as sunny, you’re stuck where you are (which if you’re under 18 is a positively crappy £4.35).

Later on in the week, the prime minister announced that he plans to suspend parliament for a Queen’s speech… or at least he’ll try. Last month Johnson was completely roasted by the Supreme Court who ruled his previous attempt at suspension null and void, oh, not to mention downright unlawful.

Last time, the problem was that the prime minister tried to close parliament for over a month… making it the longest suspension since 1945. Despite the government’s denial, everyone knew that this was a cheeky tactic to push through a no-deal Brexit. Understandably, people weren’t having it. A group of MPs and campaigners took the government to the Supreme Court who unanimously found the move to be unconstitutional… a massive kick in the balls for Johnson.

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Now, Boris’ new plan sees parliament loose just 2 sitting days… which the government have described as “the shortest time possible” to make all the necessary preparations. This is pretty fair actually, every time a new session in parliament starts, parliament is suspended to make way for our Liz to do her thing. A short suspension (or prorogation for the nerds amongst us) like this one, is unlikely to be too controversial. Although there are claims that it’s an attempt to avoid Prime Minister’s Question time… but in context it’s hardly a constitutional crisis – so we’ll just go along with it.

And then Friday brought us the big news: Johnson revealed his “final offer” to the EU. The prime minister has always said that he wants a deal, but the UK will leave the EU whatever happens on October 31st… despite the fact that there’s a law stopping him from leaving without a deal!

Of course none of this matters if the government can land a successful deal. The final proposal sees a replacement of the controversial Irish Backstop negotiation by good ol’ Theresa May back in 2018 (yes, that’s only 12 months ago!)

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Northern Ireland to the UK and EU is a bit like Spiderman to Sony and Marvel… everyone wants it to work their way. So when Theresa May tried to negotiate her Brexit deal, the EU payed special attention to Northern Ireland, adding a “backstop” detailing strict rules for how the UK temporarily trades with the EU until a long term agreement is reached. It was extremely unpopular and branded as the worst of both worlds between leave and remain. So… Boris has proposed something different.

Now, this is the nerdy bit… Rather than locking Northern Ireland in EU law and stopping the UK from negotiating it’s own trade deals, the new proposal sees the idea that there might be a multi-border approach. Because of the Good Friday agreement, there can’t be a physical border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, so the government has proposed using multiple “alternative locations” and a “trusted trader” scheme… ie, they’re going to try and put borders everywhere else instead of the actual border.

Confused? Yeah, you and me both! Let’s take it back to Spidey: The new backstop-replacing proposal is equivalent Sony offering Marvel a deal whereby Spidey can’t be affiliated with either studio… great, but then what’s the point in Sony owning the rights to Spiderman in the first place? In the same way, Boris’ new plan means that there’s borders both between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and crucially, borders between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK … But the thing about countries is that they don’t have borders (that’s kind of what makes them a country in the first place), so it undermines Northern Ireland’s position in the UK. In other words, it’s completely counterproductive!

But convincing the UK is only the first problem. Then, we’ve got the boss battle… convincing the EU. There’s a little bit of good news here, being that they haven’t shut the door and laughed in our faces (which in itself is a success given our current political situation). But they’re not convinced, in a tweet the EU’s president showed his hand, and it’s not looking great.

What’s next? Well we’ve got to wait and see what the EU negotiations achieve. They’ll likely make a counter proposal in the hope of starting a discussion at the negotiating table, but there’s a very valid concern going around that the 2 sides will simply be too far apart to manage it.

Conclusion? It’s just a tad messy.

Images via Getty

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