The chance of a WTO Brexit in October could be rising – if you take the Tory leadership contenders at their word. Or is it going to prove to be just more guff?
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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt went head-to-head in a Sun debate yesterday, both calling for the backstop to be scrapped. Not just to be tweaked or changed – but kaboshed.
As BoJo put it: “No to time limits or unilateral escape hatches, or elaborate devices, codicils that you could apply to the backstop.
“It has been devised by this country as an instrument of our own incarceration within the Customs Union and Single Market.”
With Hunt taking a firm position as well: “The backstop as it is is dead. I don’t think tweaking it with a time limit will do the trick – we have got to find a new way.”
This has been seen as a big moment, especially given the likelihood that Boris Johnson will become the next Prime Minister.
Big moment – @BorisJohnson says “no” to a unilateral exit or a 5-year exit time-limit on backstop.
Says no codicils either#FinalShowdown
— Henry Newman (@HenryNewman) July 15, 2019
Whilst ITV’s Robert Peston went one further, tweeting: “Maybe I missed something but Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt just seemed to me to have made a No Deal Brexit official government policy.”
His reasoning? When it comes to their stance on the backstop “most EU leaders will see that shift as the official moment the Tory party became the No Deal party – because EU leaders have consistently said the backstop cannot and will not be dumped”.
Will the next PM take a much tougher line than Theresa May and actually deliver Brexit? We won’t have to wait long to find out.