Johnson accuses Remain MPs of 'collaboration' with the EU to stop Brexit

PUBLISHED: 14:58 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:59 14 August 2019

Boris Johnson accused Remain MPs of 'collaboration' with the EU to block Brexit. Picture: Facebook

Boris Johnson accused Remain MPs of 'collaboration' with the EU to block Brexit. Picture: Facebook

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Boris Johnson has used his social media platform to accuse MPs and the EU of collaborating to block Brexit, which he said increases the risk of leaving without a deal.

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Responding to a cherrypicked question during his so-called "People's PMQs" on Facebook, the prime minister claimed that Brussels is "not moving in their willingness to compromise", a position he said was encouraged by MPs' resistance to Brexit.

His remarks came after the European Commission reiterated its longstanding position that Britain needs to explain its ideas on the way forward if talks are to progress.

Vanessa Mock, an EC spokesperson, said "our doors are open" for "concrete proposals" that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement or that could rework the Political Declaration.

Philip Hammond also made his first major intervention since quitting as chancellor, arguing that a no-deal Brexit would be "as much a betrayal" of the 2016 referendum as not leaving at all.

He added it could cause "irreparable damage" to the union of the UK, and hit out at "those who are pulling the strings in Downing Street, those who are setting the strategy".

MORE: Hammond accuses Boris Johnson of 'betrayal' of the referendum result with no-deal Brexit

Johnson has long maintained that the UK will leave the EU on October 31 "do or die".

Asked how he can keep his promises, given the lack of movement from the EU and opposition from MPs, Johnson said: "There's a terrible kind of collaboration, as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in parliament and our European friends.

"And our European friends are not moving in their willingness to compromise, they're not compromising at all on the Withdrawal Agreement even though it's been thrown out three times, they're sticking to every letter, every comma of the Withdrawal Agreement - including the backstop - because they still think Brexit can be blocked in parliament.

"The awful thing is the longer that goes on, the more likely it is of course that we will be forced to leave with a no-deal Brexit.

"That's not what I want, it's not what we're aiming for but we need our European friends to compromise.

"The more they think there's a chance that Brexit can be blocked in parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position."

Mock earlier told a media briefing in Brussels: "We're ready to analyse any concrete proposals that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement, and also ready to rework the future relationship as outlined in the Political Declaration. The UK knows well that our doors remain open to that effect.

"But for the talks to progress the UK government needs to explain its ideas on how it sees the way forward, respecting the commitments it took earlier in these negotiations."

Asked if the refusal to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement also stands for any future British government, such as a Labour administration, Mock replied: "Our doors are open to discuss with the UK authorities, I never said anything about refusal, but I won't go beyond what I said."

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Hammond said Mr Johnson's attempts to get the EU to back down on the backstop are a "wrecking tactic".

He said: "Leaving the EU without a deal would be just as much a betrayal of the referendum result as not leaving at all."

He said there is no mandate for no deal, and that most people want a close relationship with the EU.

"More than 17 million people did not vote to leave the EU with no deal. That is the key point here. There is no mandate for leaving with no deal."

Hammond also accused the government of making "unsubstantiated" claims over Brexit which he said need to be checked.

He said: "Over the last three weeks I have deliberately kept quiet to allow the prime minister the space and time to set out his plan for getting a deal that will lead to a good Brexit.

"But we cannot simply allow the government's unsubstantiated message to go unchecked.

"A no-deal exit will cause significant harm to the UK economy and, potentially, irreparable damage to the union of the United Kingdom. People need to know the facts."

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