Brexit: Michael Gove says ‘there won’t be a border in Irish Sea'
The Prime Minister is due to meet with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, for last-ditch talks aimed at thrashing out an EU trade deal. With barely three weeks to go before the end of the transition period, Mr Johnson yesterday admitted striking such agreement would now be “very difficult” while pledging to persist with talks.
The ERG Brexiteers will absolutely round on Boris if he breaches the red lines
However, Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, issued a stark warning about the political risks which would come with doing a deal at all costs – not least from within the ranks of his own Conservative Party.
He told Express.co.uk: “The position of Brexiteers hasn’t really changed throughout.
“The ERG Brexiteers will absolutely round on Boris if he breaches the red lines, and are very happy to push for a no deal Brexit.
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“A lot of people don’t understand this bellicose approach when it comes to issues like fishing, but disgruntled British fisherman have long been a big part of the Brexit movement, and the movement won’t betray them even if Boris does.”
In a reference to backbench rumblings, which manifested themselves most recently in a rebellion on the subject a vote to apply fresh coronavirus restrictions after the lifting of the national lockdown on December 2, Mr Harris-Quinney added: “The Conservative Party is and has for a long time been a very fragile coalition, and whilst 80 seats is a big majority, Boris’ honeymoon is well and truly over.
“To have 70+ dissenters vote against the government on key legislation this early into his term is very unusual historically, but I think is a sign of things to come.”
Mr Harris-Quinney’s comments come in the wake of Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski’s observation that it would be “kamikaze” for Mr Johnson to agree to anything which he and his colleagues perceive as compromising the UK’s new-found sovereignty.
Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, told Express.co.uk: “I have a lot of confidence in the Prime Minister’s political antennae.
“I think he is very cognisant of, talking to senior Parliamentary colleagues, of this.
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“It’s not something that we would be able to sell to our electorate, particularly if, as in my case, they voted for Brexit.
“Therefore we have made our views clear – I think it would be kamikaze to cave into what are risible and wholly unreasonable demands from the European Union.”
“We have all conveyed to him unequivocally that any deal which in any way either humiliates the United Kingdom or impinges in any way on the new-found sovereignty which our constituents voted for, would obviously be wholly unacceptable.
Mr Johnson will travel to Brussels after Prime Minister’s Questions today.
Ms von der Leyen tweeted: “I look forward to welcoming UK Prime Minister @BorisJohnson tomorrow evening.
“We will continue our discussion on the Partnership Agreement.”
Downing Street hopes the meeting will smooth the way for the resumption of talks between UK negotiator Lord David Frost and Michel Barnier, his EU opposite number.
A UK Government source said: “It’s clear that some political impetus will be required for the talks to make any more progress.
“If we can make progress at a political level it may allow Lord Frost and his team to resume negotiations over the coming days.”
Speaking this morning, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove told the BBC: “It is often around the table, when you have two political principals one-on-one, that you can often find a way through.”
However, Mr Gove likewise said it could not be a deal at any price, insisting the EU needed to make concessions and realise the United Kingdom was sovereign in order for there to be a deal.
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