The United Kingdom will be “packing our bags and walking out” of the EU in 25 days, Boris Johnson wrote in two British newspapers.
Writing in the Sun and the Daily Express, the British prime minister reiterated his stance that the U.K. will be leaving the bloc on October 31 — and sought to place the blame squarely on Brussels if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
He stood by new proposals presented to Brussels earlier this week that the British government says could replace the Irish backstop negotiated during Theresa May’s tenure, describing them as “a practical compromise.”
“After decades of campaigning, three years of arguments and seemingly endless months of pointless delay, it is now just 25 days until the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union comes to an end. We will be packing our bags and walking out on October 31. The only question is whether Brussels cheerily waves us off with a mutually agreeable deal, or whether we will be forced to head off on our own,” he wrote.
European leaders have raised serious concerns about Johnson’s new proposals and said that in their current form they are unacceptable to both Brussels and Dublin — a point reiterated Saturday when Johnson spoke to several EU leaders by phone.
Johnson’s comments came hours after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned it would be London’s responsibility if no deal is struck.
He told a Le Monde event in Paris on Saturday that Johnson’s proposals do not address some of the EU’s core concerns about the integrity of the single market and the future of the Good Friday Agreement for peace in Ireland.
If the British government “does not come back with new proposals on the two serious problems” — the question of customs controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland and London’s proposal to have the Northern Irish assembly vote on a future relationship with the EU single market — then “I do not see how we can advance, but me, I wish to advance,” Barnier said.
“No deal will never be the EU’s choice,” the negotiator added.
Irish leader Leo Varadkar told reporters on Saturday that “time is tight” to find a compromise before the European Council summit on October 17 and 18, adding: “It’s not reasonable to expect 27 or 28 heads of government to decide and sign off on something they only see the night before or two days before.”
But Johnson told the readership of two popular daily newspapers: “The way I see it, the proposals published this week represent we in the UK jumping to the island in the middle of the river. If we’re to leave with a deal, we need the EU to jump over from its side and join us there, showing its own willingness to do a deal that the UK Parliament can support.”
“So I say to our European friends: grasp the opportunity our new proposal provides. Join us at the negotiating table in a spirit of compromise and co-operation,” he wrote.