Politics

Farage welcomes tough action with no-deal masterplan after withdrawal agreement blunder

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Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage welcomed Mr Johnson’s tough response to the EU’s warning that it was up to Britain to make key concessions if a trade deal was to be agreed. In a televised statement on Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister said the time had come to step up planning for a hard Brexit as Brussels had refused to “negotiate seriously”.

He said: “Given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade.”

Mr Farage took to Twitter shortly after the announcement to publicly back Mr Johnson’s plan of action.

The Brexit architect and former MEP tweeted: “A Canada-style deal was always impossible given the Withdrawal Agreement.

“Boris now reaching the right solution.”

Political activist Darren Grimes, who founded the pro-Brexit BeLeave campaign group in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum, also praised the Prime Minister’s words.

He said: “Boris Johnson confirms we’re leaving the EU without a deal!
“That’s it – we’re out!”

He added: “Boris Johnson has confirmed to businesses and hauliers that they must ‘get ready’ for the no-trade deal scenario and ‘embrace the alternative’ with ‘high hearts’, vowing that the UK will ‘prosper mightily’.

“Well done that man!”

Former Brexit Party MEP Belinda de Lucy tweeted: “Boris Johnson. I applaud you. Let’s hope this is ink drying on paper commitment stuff.”

Ben Habib, another former Brexit Party MEP, also welcomed the move and said Mr Johnson’s next step should be to muster up “the courage to rip up the WA and cease negotiations with the EU.”

He added: “Only then can we be free of them.”

While Mr Johnson won praise from Brexiteers there was scepticism on the continent over how serious his no-deal threat actually was.

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One diplomat in Brussels dismissed the Prime Minister’s words as “just rhetoric”.

The official said the EU would still prepare for another round of trade talks with Britain next week.

They said: “He didn’t say they will leave the negotiating table.

“So it’s all just rhetoric.

“He didn’t say they won’t keep on talking. So they will.”

Mr Johnson said unless the EU changed course there would not be an agreement.

Asked to comment on Mr Johnson’s statement that it was time to prepare for a no-deal scenario, a senior EU diplomat said: “A lot of EU leaders said the same thing last night in the debate.”

He was referring to an EU summit discussion on Thursday at which the 27-nation bloc delivered an ultimatum, calling on London to yield on key sticking points or see a rupture of ties with the bloc from January 1.

Mr Johnson’s no-deal plan was ripped apart by former Tory MP Anna Soubry.

She said having promised to secure a free trade deal with the EU, Mr Johnson and the Leave campaign had “lied to the British people to win the EU referendum”.

She added: “But more than that it is the stuff of economic madness, as we face the biggest recession in our history, to walk away from the world’s biggest free trade area.”

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