UK

Boris Johnson admits he was too ‘optimistic’ about his ‘oven ready’ Brexit deal

The Prime Minister won the 2019 election campaigning for his Northern Ireland Protocol, saying it would “get Brexit done”

Boris Johnson has admitted he was too “optimistic” when he signed his “oven-ready” Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister won the 2019 election campaigning for his Northern Ireland Protocol, saying it would “get Brexit done”.

But checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea have caused turmoil and he has tabled a Bill to rip them up, enraging the EU.

Critics said at the time that the Protocol, which put British goods moving to Northern Ireland under some EU rules, created a border inside the UK.

Speaking to reporters on a trip to Rwanda, the Prime Minister said: “This is something that I didn’t want to do.

“I wanted the protocol to work. I, after all, agreed the thing.

“When I when I read it, I looked at it with the eyes of optimism.

“And I thought that there was enough stuff in it if you read it carefully, there’s enough language in it about east-west trade and the UK internal market, to make you think that the EU could make it operate in a way that wasn’t burdensome for businesses trying to do businesses east-west between GB and NI.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic
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Image:

REUTERS)

“That isn’t how it has been operated. It’s caused Stormont to collapse.”

But the Prime Minister dismissed the EU’s plans for legal action, saying there are “all sorts of” legal cases against the UK.

And he blasted EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic’s suggestion that the Bill was “politically driven”.

He said: “The reaction around the table amongst our friends has been much more muted than I think people were expecting.”

Naomi Smith, chief executive of internationalist campaign group Best for Britain, said: “The Prime Minister claims he wanted the protocol to work but in reality, he never put in place the necessary infrastructure to make that happen.

“Instead he chose to create uncertainty and instability, through continued threats of unilateral action.

”Rather than bemoaning its apparent failure, the PM actually has the power to find a way forward with EU counterparts and reach a solution that protects businesses and consumers on both sides of the Irish sea.”

European Commission President Mr Sefcovic made his remarks in a Sky News interview.

He said: “I cannot resist the impression that the tabling of the Bill is politically driven.

“But it’s not our role to comment on internal politics in the UK and therefore our doors for the negotiations will always be open.”

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