The day after meeting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin, Mr Johnson held talks with his Northern Irish allies in London — all key players in the race to secure a deal before Britain leaves the European Union on October 31.
Boris Johnson speaks with year four and year six pupils during a visit to Pimlico Primary school on September 10, 2019 in London. Picture: Toby Melville/WPA Pool/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Mr Johnson has faced huge opposition in the House of Commons to his threat to leave the bloc without agreeing exit terms with Brussels but politicians have also rejected his call for an early general election to resolve the impasse.
Before he suspended parliament early Tuesday, MPs rushed through legislation requiring Mr Johnson to postpone Brexit by three months if he fails to secure a deal at an EU summit on October 17-18.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a history class with pupils during a visit to a primary school in London. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
“We’re working very hard to get a deal. I think we will get a deal but if absolutely necessary we will come out with no deal,” Johnson said during a school visit on Tuesday.
He has previously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit.
The Conservative leader took office in July promising to renegotiate the exit terms struck by his predecessor, Theresa May, which were rejected three times by MPs.
But the EU has so far refused, and accused London of failing to come up with any viable alternatives to the most controversial element, the so-called backstop plan to keep open the UK’s border with the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Johnson met Tuesday with Arlene Foster, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which has propped up his government.
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There is speculation that Mr Johnson could be softening his demand to remove the backstop from the Brexit deal, although Downing Street denies this — and the DUP would likely resist such a move.
It fears that efforts to keep open the land frontier between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic to protect the peace process, could lead to a new sea border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.
Anti-Brexit activists, and demonstrators opposing the British government’s actions in relation to the handling of Brexit, protest near Downing Street in central London. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
MPs rushed through the “no deal” law before the session closed amid dramatic scenes early on Tuesday.
Opposition MPs waved signs reading “Silenced” and hollered “Shame on you!” at government politicians as the formal suspension ceremony took place.
Prorogation is normally a routine event every year but Johnson is accused of trying to muzzle politicians by doing it for so long — five weeks — and so close to the Brexit deadline.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims to have the answers after suspending parliament for five weeks and saying he will work on a Brexit deal. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Mr Johnson rejected criticism of his decision to suspend parliament. “This stuff about it being anti-democratic — I mean, donnez-moi un break,” he said, switching into Franglais.
“We were very, very clear that if people wanted a democratic moment, if they wanted an election, we offered it to the Labour opposition and mysteriously they decided not to go for it.”