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Boris Johnson news: PM to prorogue parliament again amid EU concern over ‘problematic points’ in new Brexit border plan

Follow all the latest developments

Adam Forrest,Lizzy Buchan,Jon Sharman
Wednesday 02 October 2019 22:45
Boris Johnson launches attack parliament by accusing it of 'refusing to do anything constructive'

Boris Johnson’s government has now published details of proposals for a withdrawal agreement to take the UK out of the EU by the end of the month, but the European Commission quickly said that “problematic points” remained in the prime minister’s plans.

Emerging after the PM’s conference speech, the proposals drew swift criticism as “problematic” and failing to safeguard the interests of people and traders on the island of Ireland. “A lot of work is needed,” said Michel Barnier, while noting the concrete offer did constitute progress.

Mr Johnson’s plan, which he billed as a compromise for the UK, would mean customs checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic as well as a regulatory control border down the Irish Sea. One manufacturers’ pressure group described the scheme, which would effectively create two borders, as “worse than no deal”.

The PM used his conference speech to say the UK must deliver Brexit because voters feel they’re being “taken for fools”. And attacking parliament, he claimed MPs “would have been voted out of the jungle by now” if politics was a reality TV show.

In the early evening, Downing Street confirmed plans to prorogue parliament again ahead of a new Queen’s Speech on 14 October.

While the Tory conference drew to a close in Manchester, the debate on the domestic violence bill continued in Westminster. Labour’s Rosie Duffield won praise for, and brought her colleagues to tears with, her account of her own experience of coercive control.


Good morning and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of events at Westminster and Manchester, where the Conservative party conference comes to a close with Boris Johnson's big speech - his first as prime minister.

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:11

Boris Johnson will lay down a “take it or leave it” ultimatum to Brussels on Wednesday, warning he will take the UK out of the European Union without a deal if it is rejected.

The prime minister will spell out details of what he describes as a “fair and reasonable compromise” in his keynote speech to the Tory conference. The legal text will be sent to Brussels soon afterwards.

The prime minister has acknowledged customs checks of some sort will be required on both sides of the Irish border once the UK has left the EU customs union, in a major shift away from predecessor Theresa May’s promise to avoid new checks and controls to preserve the Northern Ireland peace process.

Johnson is set to unveil a “two borders for four years” plan that will leave Northern Ireland tied to the EU from the end of the transition period in 2021 until 2025, according to The Telegraph.

Stormont would then be free either to switch to the British mainland’s trading arrangements at the cost of a harder border, or continue with the existing arrangement. 

All the details here.

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:13

Conservative party chairman James Cleverly has insisted there will be no further delay on Brexit.

As the UK heads for the 31 October deadline to quit the EU, Cleverly told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “No more pointless delay. This is the time for the EU negotiators to recognise that a deal can be done.

“It will require some flexibility, but a deal can be done.”

Cleverly also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Negotiations always go to the eleventh hour … If we can’t get a deal at this point, we’re going to leave without a deal.”

“The UK has been flexible, but a negotiation means both parties need to be flexible. What we need to see now is the EU being flexible.”

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:14

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:17

Jacob Rees-Mogg is set to ask the Queen to prorogue parliament again – possibly as soon as this weekend – according to reported government plans.

Boris Johnson is hoping to close the Commons on Tuesday next week before a planned Queen’s Speech on 14 October, according to The Times.

The civil rights group Liberty, meanwhile, will seek a judicial review if Johnson’s lawyers fail to confirm whether or not they’re going to break the Benn Act by Friday.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC is leading a separate challenge in Scotland, asking the Court of Session to make sure Johnson doesn’t sneakily try to avoid sending the Brexit extension letter the Benn Act requires of him.

Cherry’s team want a nobile officium – widely known as a “nob-off” – which would allow the court’s clerk to draft and sign the letter on behalf of the prime minister.

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:23

Boris Johnson will use his speech at the Conservative conference to say “we can, we must and we will” get Brexit done because voters feel they are being “taken for fools” by Westminster’s politicians.

British officials have made clear to EU counterparts that the legal texts which will be presented to the EU are a final offer and unless Brussels is prepared to engage there will be no more talks until after Brexit.

In his speech in Manchester, the prime minister will say: “Voters are desperate for us to focus on their other priorities - what people want, what leavers want, what remainers want, what the whole world wants - is to move on.

“That is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31. Let’s get Brexit done - we can, we must and we will.”

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:27

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi claimed that Boris Johnson once squeezed her hand under the table moments before they filmed TV show Question Time.

She told The Independent the experience was “odd and discombobulating” and made her instinctively ready to believe the claim of journalist Charlotte Edwardes that Johnson had squeezed her leg at a lunch.

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:28

Donald Trump is in all kinds of trouble for his contacts with foreign leaders as an impeachment inquiry continues in Congress.

According to a report in The Times, the US president contacted Boris Johnson to “ask for help” on 26 July (only a couple of days after Johnson entered No 10), as he looked for ways to discredit the Mueller probe. 

Trump’s attorney general William Barr reportedly brought up the Mueller investigation in his meeting with British intelligence officials a few days later. No 10 officials have refused to comment.

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 08:30

Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain suggested that the Brexit plan could break the law and “sabotage” the Good Friday Agreement.

The Labour peer said: “By insisting on extra customs checks and different trading relationships across the Irish border the government is proposing to break the law again”.

He said the government would be “contravening Section 10 (2) (b) of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 which specifically bans ‘border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after exit day which feature physical infrastructure, including border posts, or checks and controls, that did not exist before exit day’”.

Lord Hain added: “This will also sabotage the Good Friday Peace Agreement.”

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 09:00

Sajid Javid has revealed he is considering scrapping inheritance tax in what would be a huge handout to some of the wealthiest people in Britain.

“It’s something that’s on my mind,” the chancellor told a fringe meeting at the Tory conference, agreeing with a questioner who branded it the “most hated tax”.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has all the details.

Adam Forrest2 October 2019 09:10

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