Johnson’s “camouflaged No Deal” Brexit – some thoughts

Ex-Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond has described Boris Johnson’s proposals as a “heavily camouflaged No Deal” Brexit – and I think most of us who have read the details have come to the same view.

The hard right of the Tory Party who refused to back Theresa May’s deal are now almost unanimously in favour. Suspicious? We should be. Tory right-winger John Baron MP let the cat out of the bag at the weekend, saying: “Boris Johnson has torn up that backstop, which means that if the trade talks are not successful… up to December 2020 – that’s how long they could take, then we could leave on no-deal terms.”

Unlike Theresa May, Boris Johnson refuses to publish an economic impact assessment of his plans. That’s not because Johnson has suddenly gone shy, it’s because he’s got a good idea of what an assessment would say.

His proposals have been opposed by farmers, like the ones I met near Corwen on Friday, who know the lack of EU market access and the flooding of our market with inferior produce will mean the end for many Welsh farms. They’re opposed by the TUC who represent millions of workers because of what would happen to employment rights. They’re opposed by Make UK, the body representing business people in manufacturing and engineering, who are against a transition deal, which stretches to just 14 months, and the lack of commitments to maintaining the closest possible trading relationship with the EU. And they’re even opposed by the Tory Party’s former political partners in the DUP as they would create a border in the Irish Sea and lead to the breakup of the UK.

As MP for Clwyd South, I have kept to my word. I’ve also been prepared to compromise, voting for some things even when they weren’t my preferred option. I voted to trigger Article 50 as I said I would and I voted for a Customs Union. And, as I said in the Wrexham.com online hustings before the 2017 General Election, “if the deal is rubbish, I won’t vote for it”.

But what’s quite clear now is that Boris Johnson’s Government isn’t prepared to compromise at all. They are pushing a hard Right, English nationalist agenda that would devastate workers’ rights and communities like ours. And Johnson and his gang are so extreme they’ve shown they’ll get rid of any elected Tory MP – like Antoinette Sandbach just across the border and ex-Attorney General Dominic Grieve – who stands up to their extremism.

What is being offered now was not offered by any campaign – Leave or Remain – in 2016.

If Boris Johnson genuinely believes his proposals are good for the UK, he should have the guts to put them directly to the people. If he does,

I will vote for a confirmatory referendum where the British people get to choose between Johnson and the status quo.

Susan Elan Jones MP (21/10/19)