Mark Francois rows back on claims country will 'explode' without Brexit by October 31st
PUBLISHED: 13:55 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:07 23 October 2019
Mark Francois still believes Boris Johnson is doing what he can to take the UK out of the EU in the next week, despite MPs delivering a setback for the prime minister over his timetable.
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The Tory Brexiteer had claimed on television in September that if Boris Johnson asked for another Brexit extension "this country will explode".
During the leadership contest the Rayleigh MP said the prime minister had given his assurance they would leave by then - or the Tory were finished.
He said: "I looked him in the eye, I've known him 20 years, and said, 'Boris if you become prime minister, do you give me your word we'll leave on the 31st of October, come hell or high water,' and he said, 'look, we've got to leave, otherwise the Tory Party are finished. We're leaving,' that's what swung it for me."
He had also been told that Boris Johnson would not bring back a version of Theresa May's deal.
Speaking in August he told ITV: "If a politician makes an absolute commitment ... I expect them to keep their word whether they're a PM or a parish councillor."
But now Francois sounded less concerned about all of the above points, despite accusations that the deal was a rehashed version of the last.
Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO he was jubilant that there was now a deal in place.
He said he believed that leaving the European Union could come soon enough if the DUP can be won over.
He explained: "If we do get a timetable motion approved, and I haven't given up on that possibility, because right at the end Nigel Dodds... appeared to offer the prime minister a bit of an olive branch."
He added: "It's not impossible, if the DUP changes their mind, we can have another vote on the revised programme motion. We'd have to change it, maybe for a couple of extra days, and that could still go through. I wouldn't rule that out."
Francois said he still believed the prime minister wants to try to leave on October 31st.
"I believe the prime minister genuinely wants to get this deal ratified through parliament so we can leave at Halloween. I don't think for one moment he put this programme motion in to get it knocked down to call an election, he's done well to negotiate a deal, it's different in varying important ways to Theresa May's deal. In a nutshell we really do leave the European Union if we pass it".
He reiterated his point: "His priority is still to get us out by Halloween. He hasn't abandoned that."
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