Tory former minister suggests Boris Johnson is not telling truth that he wants new Brexit agreement and is 'hell-bent on getting no-deal'

Ed Vaizey says prime minister is 'hell-bent' on wanting no-deal and is 'going through the motions' in pretending to seek new agreement

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 21 August 2019 08:34 BST
EU issues damning dismissal of Boris Johnson's Brexit backstop plan

Boris Johnson is not telling the truth about wanting to secure a new Brexit agreement and is instead "hell-bent on getting no-deal", a Tory former minister has claimed.

Ed Vaizey, a former culture minister, said the prime minister was "going through the motions" in insisting that he wants the UK to leave the EU with an exit deal.

There was "no chance" of negotiating a new deal with the EU, Mr Vaizey said.

The claims came as Mr Johnson prepared to travel to Berlin to meet Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for talks that No10 said were designed to persuade the EU to amend the current exit agreement.

The prime minister will also hold talks with Emmanuel Macron, the French president, on Thursday, ahead of a G7 summit in Biarritz starting on Saturday.

Despite ramping up preparations for a no-deal departure, Mr Johnson has said repeatedly that he wants to secure a new Brexit deal and is "confident" that the EU will back down over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.

He is demanding that the backstop, which could see the UK remain tied to EU tariffs and regulations on goods, be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement, but Brussels says it will not reopen negotiations on the document.

Mr Vaizey claimed that Mr Johnson was not genuinely trying to secure a deal.

He told Radio 4's Today: "We're going to keep coming back to the Withdrawal Agreement, we're going to continue to have a hung parliament and a zombie parliament unless and until we leave the EU and parties can then campaign to try and get a majority.

"So we have to find a way to get parliament to agree to a deal and therefore I would give Boris Johnson the credit of at least forcing on parliament an existential crisis by being faced with a prime minister who is hell-bent on getting no-deal.

"He is completely serious about no-deal and there's no chance of him negotiating a deal with the EU, he knows that, he's just going though the motions."

The Wantage MP said Brexiteers in parliament were "in the ascendancy" because they were "more united and focused on a single goal than the anti-no dealers or the Remainers".

There is no alternative Brexit deal that could secure a parliamentary majority, so MPs should look again at the current agreement, he added.

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