London, Oct 3 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday clashed with Jeremy Corbyn over Britain’s future trade ties with the EU as Ireland rejected the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan as “not the basis of a deal”.
Addressing the Commons, Johnson told MPs he has made a “genuine attempt to bridge the chasm” to strike a fresh Brexit deal with the EU with his new blueprint and appealed to MPs in the House of Commons to support his proposals.
Johnson told MPs that his blueprint would allow “the UK to take back control of our trade policy and our regulations” because it severs ties with the European bloc in more dramatic way than under Theresa May’s plans.
Johnson told MPs that his proposals — which would see Northern Ireland stay in the European single market for goods but leave the customs union — were a “compromise”. He has maintained that the UK will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn criticized the “unrealistic and damaging proposals”. The Prime Minister’s proposal aims to replace the Irish border “backstop” in the existing withdrawal agreement — which has been rejected three times by MPs.
However, the Labour leader warned the proposal for a Canada-style free trade agreement would mean a “race to the bottom” on workers’ and environmental rights. He claimed “no Labour MP” could support Mr Johnson’s proposals.
The backstop is the controversial “insurance policy” that is meant to keep a free-flowing border on the island of Ireland but which critics – including Johnson – fear could trap the UK in EU trading rules indefinitely. It has proved to be the sticking point in negotiations.
The UK government is now hoping to begin a period of intense negotiations with the aim of reaching a final agreement at an EU summit on October 17.
“This government has moved, our proposals do represent a compromise and I hope that the House can now come together in the national interest, behind this new deal,” Johnson told MPs.
A European Commission spokesperson said: “There are, as we have said, problematic points in the UK’s proposal and further work is needed, but that work needs to be done by the UK and not the other way around.
“We would remind you that it’s the UK leaving the EU and not the EU leaving the UK.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the UK’s approach “did not fully meet the agreed objectives of the backstop”.
Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted the EU was “open but still unconvinced” about the plan, and would “stand fully behind Ireland”.