Politics

Boris Johnson ‘turbocharges’ No Deal Brexit plan in hardline first speech to MPs

Boris Johnson today announced he is "turbocharging" plans for No Deal Brexit in a hardline first statement to Parliament as Prime Minister.

The PM – who met his hard-right Cabinet for the first time today – catapulted the UK towards crashing out of the EU on October 31 as he added to the £4.2billion already spent on No Deal.

Mr Johnson announced he is refusing to nominate a new UK Commissioner in the EU from December; will begin work on tax cuts for big business to stop them fleeing; and "of course" refuse to pay the £39billion 'divorce bill' to the EU if there is no deal.

"We must turbocharge our preparations to ensure there's as little disruption as possible as possible to our national life," he declared.

And he claimed the UK could be "the greatest and most prosperous economy in Europe" – by 2050. But MPs slammed him for parading a "fantasy land".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded him a "Britain Trump" – a phrase coined by the US President – who'd "thrown together a hard-right cabinet" in "staking everything on tax cuts for the few".

Mr Corbyn added: "He says he has pluck, nerve and ambition. Our country does not need arm-waving bluster but competence, seriousness, and after a decade of divisive policies of the few to focus – for once – on the interests of the many."

The Prime Minister's statement on his "priorities for government" ran for 11 and a half minutes before Mr Johnson talked about anything that wasn't Brexit.

Mr Johnson demanded the EU U-turn and agree changes to Theresa May's Brexit deal – adding he would refuse to compromise on the Irish backstop clause. He said the backstop must be "abolished" and "a time limit is not enough".

He said UK officials were ready to talk to the EU "whenever, wherever they are ready" in "the spirit of friendship" – but vowed to crash out with No Deal in 98 days if not.

He told MPs: "I have today instructed [Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove] to make these preparations his top priority. I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to mobilise the civil service to deliver this outcome should it become necessary. And the Chancellor has confirmed all necessary funding will be made available."

Mr Johnson promised more than 3million EU citizens already living in the UK can stay.

But he added he will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to review the system of migration – the first step to creating an 'Australian style points system' of entry.

"We are going to prove the doubters wrong," he said. But Jeremy Corbyn said the sight of a Prime Minister with “rigid red lines and an artificial timetable” was “eerily familiar”.

Mr Corbyn said the threat to withhold £39billion is a "phony threat about a fake pot of money" because it is already legally committed and will be paid over 30 years.

And highlighting the dangers of a US trade deal he said: "Rather than take back control, the new PM would make us effectively a vassal state of Trump's America."

Mr Johnson insisted he would not agree to any free trade deal that "put the NHS onn the table".


Mr Corbyn went on: "Labour will oppose any deal that fails to protect jobs, workers' rights or environmental protections.

"If you have the confidence to put that decision back to the people, we would, in those circumstances, campaign to Remain."

And SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr Johnson was in a "parallel universe” and “fantasy land”, adding: "He has been appointed not by this house, not by the people but by the Tory party. It horrifies me that the new PM finds his position through such an undemocratic process."

Yet the new Prime Minister hit back at Mr Corbyn: "It is this government that’s clearly on the side of democracy.

"The reality now is we are the party of the people. We are the party of the many, and they are the party of a few. We will take this country forwards, they will take it backwards."

It comes after Mr Johnson summoned Britain's most right-wing government since the 1980s for its first Cabinet meeting on his first day in 10 Downing Street.

More than half of Theresa May's cabinet – 17 out of 30 – were either sacked or resigned in the new PM's brutal 'night of the blond knives' reshuffle last night.

In their place were ushered a flank of 33 ministers so large they needed a baby table, shoved on the end of the historic Cabinet table, for today's first meeting.


A staggering two-thirds (64%) of the new Cabinet went to private schools compared to 7% of the general population, damning research by the Sutton Trust found.

And four – Mr Johnson, his brother Jo, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Kwasi Kwarteng – went to home of the elite Eton College.

Last night Remainers and supporters of leadership rival Jeremy Hunt were shown the door as Johnson ruthlessly dumped enemies – including Mr Hunt himself who quit after refusing a demotion to Defence Secretary.

Right-wing Tories Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab were ushered in as Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively.


Health Secretary Matt Hancock and DWP chief Amber Rudd kept their jobs after swallowing their pride – and principles – to offer some support for Mr Johnson.

Hated Esther McVey became Housing Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg Commons Leader and disgraced former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson returned as Education Secretary despite having to resign over a national security leak (which he denied).

Boris Johnson slinked out the back door of No10 to make to his statement – which began with enthusiastic tribute to the woman he ousted, Theresa May .

"She has a great legacy on which we will all be proud to build," he declared.

On domestic issues he repeated his pledges on police and school spending (see below).

And he said those guilty of the most serious sexual and violent offences would have to "serve a custodial sentence that truly reflects the severity of their offence".

Signs of the anger at Mr Johnson came this morning as the Liberal Democrats tabled a no confidence motion in him- hours after he took power.

The text of the Lib Dem motion says: "That this House has no confidence in the Prime Minster; rejects the option of the UK crashing out of the EU; and rejects the option of Parliament being prorogued before Friday 8 November 2019."

But the motion was NOT the same as a full-blown no confidence motion in Her Majesty's Government – which would be capable of triggering a general election.

And a Labour spokeswoman fumed: "As Jo Swinson well knows, a no confidence vote now will only strengthen Boris Johnson's hand and further his march towards no deal.

"This is childish and irresponsible game playing by the Lib Dems who are more interested in attacking Labour than stopping no deal."

It comes after Mr Johnson gave a rushed statement on his priorities on the steps of 10 Downing Street yesterday.


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