As Boris Johnson demands the EU drop the Irish backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, a young activist has branded his negotiation efforts a ‘sham’.
Will Dry, who co-founded pro-EU youth campaign Our Future, Our Choice, said that Boris Johnson was trying to “con” the British public into thinking he is trying to get a deal, but had presented no credible alternative arrangements for the backstop.
Johnson is currently poised to meet Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and other G7 leaders in apparent efforts to get the EU to drop the backstop from the Withdral Agreement.
He has so far suggested replacing the backstop with a “legally binding commitment” not to build a hard border. According to the Sun, Number 10 has also suggested that the EU suspends the Republic of Ireland’s part in the customs union and single market to temporarily align it with the UK.
MORE: Boris Johnson may be due a ‘nasty surprise’ at Merkel meeting, warns former German diplomatMORE: The Lord of the Lies: How Germany’s view of Britain is shifting with Boris Johnson at Number 10In a blistering polemic to Sky News, Dry said that the EU would naturally reject these and that Johnson was “playing to the gallery”.
“Of course it’s a categorical ‘no’, because … he hasn’t presented any alternative arrangement to the backstop,” he said.
“The only thing that’s been briefed out is that he wants Ireland to leave the single market and customs union, which, again, is absurd.
“I find it quite frustrating that people can’t just see this for what it is. It’s a sham. It’s a fake negotation.
“He’s playing to the gallery, the British people, and is trying to essentially con them into thinking that he’s trying to get a deal, and then at the last minute he’s going to try and force no deal on the country.”
Dry added that there is a “clear mandate” against no deal, as both the EU elections and the 2017 general election saw 55% of people voting for parties that explicitly rule it out.
“That’s why our elected representatives should prevent him from doing that,” he said.
Former Tory minister Ed Vaizey echoed the young activist’s views on the trip on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. He suggested Johnson was “just going through the motions” and is “hell-bent on getting no-deal”.
Speaking to the New European, Dry added: “He said he wants to get a deal, he’s writing all these letters but his rhetoric isn’t matching his actions.”
On the matter of Ireland temporarily aligning with the UK, Dry said: “It’s unbelievable. That’s trying to get another sovereign state to massively change the way it trades because of a decision that we made.”
Government figures have insisted that Johnson’s efforts to renegotiate are being made in good faith.
Michael Gove said Johnson’s trip to meet EU leaders is to “see if there’s movement”.
Johnson has said that he “hopes we’ll be making some progress … I’m going to go at it with a lot of oomph.”