Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois has claimed that the EU will ‘blink again’ over the government’s Brexit demands – despite the fact it was Boris Johnson who caved last time.
Francois told the BBC News Channel he felt the EU would concede ground on contentious negotiating points such as the level playing field and fisheries as long as the UK remain committed to ending talks by December 31.
The government has formally ‘given notice’ to the bloc of its intentions not to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period. There are also reports Downing Street will relax border checks on EU goods from January 1 over fears of the economic impacts of coronavirus.
Commenting on the government’s decision, the European Research Group chair said: ‘The government has made it absolutely plain that there will be no extension of the transition period and therefore we got until the end of December to come up with an agreement.
‘I believe we can do that because we managed to get them to change the Withdrawal Agreement and drop the backstop in three months… even though Michel Barnier swore blind he would not do any of those things.’
He added: ‘They [the EU] blinked once and I believe if we hold our nerve, they will blink again’.
When pressed on whether businesses should be given more time to prepare, the Tory MP responded: ‘We’ve got plenty of time. What we need is political will.’
Twitter users could not have been less supportive of the dangerous game Francois was suggesting his Tory colleagues play, as his name started to trend.
Trade unionist Clare Hepworth said: ‘Give me strength! Mark Francois #bbcnews refusing to contemplate an extension of the transition period & invokes the Tory manifesto pledge!
‘I think he’s suffering political amnesia or thinks viewers are dumb. That was BEFORE the pandemic struck & reduced our economy by a third!’
David Head reminded users of concessions Boris Johnson to get the Withdrawal Agreement. He tweeted: ‘It was Boris Johnson who blinked first the last time around, over that border in the Irish Sea. Francois’ memory is seriously defective.’
Twitter user @cabinetofclowns added: ‘It was the Vote Leave administration who blinked and accepted the importation of chlorinated chicken from Trump’s US, after explicitly stating many times, that our high standards in animal welfare would not be compromised.’
The New European’s editor-at-large Alastair Campbell agreed. ”Blinked’? What planet are these people on? @BorisJohnson caved to get a deal. Now he says he doesn’t like the deal he agreed to.’
Another wrote: ‘Mark Francois has got to be the best advert for Scottish independence the SNP could possibly ask for.’