The UK will leave the EU on 31 October “do or die, come what may”. At the same time, the odds of a no-deal Brexit are “a million-to-one against”. Both of those statements come from the mouth of the new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, yet they seem to be at odds with one another.
Johnson has said he does not want a “no deal” Brexit. However, he argues that Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement has already been voted down three times by the British Parliament, so there’s no way to get it through without some concessions from Brussels. For Johnson, that means tearing up the “anti-democratic” Northern Ireland backstop.
What is the backstop? It’s a mechanism designed to guarantee an open border between the Republic of Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (in the UK, soon to be out of the EU). The backstop would only kick in after the post-Brexit transition period has elapsed, should no close future trade relationship be agreed in time. It applies to the whole of the UK, giving British firms access to the Single Market but tying the UK closely to EU rules and regulations. Despite now being unpopular in Britain, it was originally proposed by the UK side during the negotiations.
Boris Johnson has now been given 30 days to come up with an alternative to the backstop. Is he up to the task? Is Johnson, a man famously fond of spouting Greek and Latin phrases, the right person to cut the Gordian Knot of Brexit? To navigate between the Scylla of the eurosceptics in his party and the Charybdis of the EU? To scale the great inverted pyramid of piffle that is the UK leaving the European Union?
Is Boris Johnson the best person to deliver Brexit? Will he rise to the challenge and be remembered as a modern Churchill? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!