RACHEL MCGRATH(HuffPost UK)//Boris Johnson has laid out his plan “for a better Brexit”, labelling Theresa May’s current one – the Chequers plan – as “a moral and intellectual humiliation for this country”.
The former foreign secretary details his ideas in a 4,500-word article published in the Daily Telegraph, arguing for a free trade deal to be made as part of the UK’s exit from the EU, in order to “fulfil the instruction of the people”.
“Overall, the Chequers proposals represent the intellectual error of believing that we can be half-in, half-out: that it is somehow safer and easier for large parts of our national life to remain governed by the EU even though we are no longer in the EU,” he writes.
“They are in that sense a democratic disaster. There is nothing safe or ‘pragmatic’ in being bound by rules over which we have no say, interpreted by a federalist court.
“The Chequers proposals are the worst of both worlds. They are a moral and intellectual humiliation for this country. It is almost incredible that after two years this should be the opening bid of the British government.”
Johnson, who quit the cabinet in July, also argues for a new withdrawal agreement which states that the Irish border question will be settled as part of the deal on the future economic arrangements.
His trade deal proposal is based on the agreement Canada has with the EU, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
CETA allows Canada to access the European market on improved terms while not being a member, so it does not have to pay into the EU budget, follow ECJ laws or adopt freedom of movement.
Nearly all tariffs are being eliminated on imports and exports between the countries, while there are increased opportunities for companies to do business and workers to move between the territories.
As a result, Johnson has christened his proposal “SuperCanada” and says the UK should spend the Brexit implementation period negotiating the agreement.
He adds: “This is the time to get it right. This is the approach that allows this country really to exploit the opportunities of Brexit, to diverge and legislate effectively for the new technologies and businesses in which the UK has such a lead.
“This is an opportunity for the UK to become more dynamic and more successful, and we should not be shy of saying that – and we should recognise that it is exactly this potential our EU partners seek to constrain.”
Johnson concludes with a rallying cry to the his fellow Conservative MPs, saying “this is the moment to change the course of the negotiations and do justice to the ambitions and potential of Brexit”, and warning “that future generations will not lightly forgive us if we fail”.
His comments come just two days before the start of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham where Brexit is expected to feature heavily.
Just days ago, the current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for calm over the current Brexit impasse – claiming there was always going to come a point in negotiations “where everyone was looking into the abyss”.
Hunt also backed the prime minister’s resolve and warned the EU and doubters in the UK that “underestimating Theresa May is one of the biggest mistakes that you could make right now”.
May’s Chequers plan was publicly rejected by EU leaders in Salzburg last week and both Labour and Tory Eurosceptics said they would vote against any such proposal.