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Boris Johnson says Brexit Party are ‘an incentive’ for EU to re-open talks

Boris Johnson has hinted he is open to working with Nigel Farage by calling the success of the Brexit Party ‘an incentive’ for the EU to reopen talks with the UK.

Britain’s new Prime Minister praised the Brexit Party for their efforts to attack the core of the EU on a visit to Scotland today.

Mr Johnson said the fact that so many Brexit Party representatives had been elected as MEPs would put extra pressure on Brussels to renegotiate a deal before the October deadline. 

 

Boris Johnson visiting HMNB Clyde in Faslane on Monday as he made his first visit to Scotland as Prime Minister

‘They have now got 29 members of the Brexit Party sitting in Strasbourg, not exactly full of the Ode To Joy,’ he said on Monday.

‘They are not going to want that situation to continue. There is big incentive on both sides to get this thing done, and we are going to come out, deal or no-deal, on October 31.’

Mr Johnson said a new free trade deal that ‘allows us to take back control of our tariffs and our regulations’ should be at the core of the UK’s negotiations. 

Within 48 hours of assuming office last week, Mr Johnson raised eyebrows in Europe by demanding Theresa May’s backstop be removed from any potential deal.

He has so far threatened to withdraw from the EU without a deal without paying the £39billion divorce bill agreed by Mrs May.

Earlier on Monday he kicked off a Brexit row with Remainer Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today by defiantly telling her it was happening on October 31 whether she likes it or not.

Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs in European Parliament as the anthem is played out at a meeting

Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs in European Parliament as the anthem is played out at a meeting

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party stole a huge share of the Tories' vote in the recent European Elections

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party stole a huge share of the Tories’ vote in the recent European Elections

On his first visit to Scotland, Mr Johnson told the SNP leader the UK would leave the EU on Halloween ‘come what may’.

But his comments during a head-to-head in Edinburgh sparked a furious response, with the First Minister accusing him of secretly wanting a No Deal Brexit instead of a deal with Brussels.  

Mr Johnson’s cabinet have vowed to step up preparations for No Deal and his ‘war cabinet’ met for the first time today. 

In a move similar to Tony Blair’s ‘sofa government’, Mr Johnson will make all key decisions over Brexit with a team of just six senior ministers – all of whom are Brexiteers.

Mr Gove, Chancellor Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, and the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will be the core group of advisors to plot the UK’s exit from the EU.

Boosterism: That’s Boris Johnson’s new economic mantra as he plans to turbo-charge Britain in the run-up to Brexit

Boris Johnson has ordered the Treasury to embrace a new philosophy of ‘Boosterism’ as it prepares for an emergency Budget this autumn.

Senior Tories said the new Prime Minister had made it clear he wants ‘rocket boosters’ placed under the economy in the run up to Brexit, with a huge investment in infrastructure and an end to the tight austerity spending rules that have characterised the last decade.

Senior City sources say that Mr Johnson’s economic credo combines a Blairite enthusiasm for infrastructure spending, coupled with a Thatcherite belief in the power of tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

One said: ‘He was asked to explain his economic philosophy and said, in a word: Boosterism.’

The new mantra is set to get its first outing in an emergency Budget pencilled in for the first week of October – less than a month before Britain is due to leave the EU.

A Government source last night said: ‘He believes in the power of infrastructure to boost economic growth.

He saw it during his time as London Mayor and he wants to take that effect nationwide.

‘You have already heard him talk about accelerating the roll-out of super-fast broadband and commissioning new rail lines and you are going to hear a lot more.’

Mr Johnson has already announced plans for a new generation of intercity rail routes, starting with a high-speed trans-Pennine line from Manchester to Leeds.

He is also said to be considering proposals from Chancellor Sajid Javid for a £100billion to help bridge the North/South divide.

The idea would see an arms-length body established with five years’ funding to support investment outside London and improve the UK’s infrastructure, which he described as being ‘creaking and in desperate need of upgrading.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on one of the four Vanguard-class submarines that make up Btirain's continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, at Faslane naval base on the Clyde

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on one of the four Vanguard-class submarines that make up Btirain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, at Faslane naval base on the Clyde

Mr Johnson, who is being guided by his controversial adviser Dominic Cummings, has also commissioned work on plans to raise the starting threshold for paying National Insurance to £12,500, at a cost of £11billion a year.

This is on top of a campaign pledge to raise the starting threshold for paying 40p tax from £50,000 to £80,000, at an annual cost to the Exchequer of £9billion – although this is unlikely to take place until after the next election.

And he has ordered a review of stamp duty to prevent it ‘choking’ the property market.

This could result in the tax being axed on properties worth less than £500,000.

And in a major shift of emphasis, he has also authorised Mr Javid to tear up Philip Hammond’s tight spending rules which were designed to finally eradicate the huge budget deficit left behind by the last Labour government.

The new approach was welcomed by Tory MPs last night.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the education committee, said: ‘Boosterism is a great phrase for putting rocket boosters under the economy which is what we have got to do.

‘We have to relax the spending rules in order to boost funding for infrastructure, affordable housing and so on because our infrastructure is crumbling. Put that together with tax cuts for the lower paid and you have got a winning formula.’

Vicky Ford, chairman of the all-party infrastructure group, said: ‘Boris is a great believer in the power of infrastructure spending and he is right that, when done well, it drives economic growth.’

Mr Johnson has already irritated the former chancellor by pledging to spend the £26billion ‘fiscal headroom’ that Mr Hammond set aside to cope with the economic fallout of a possible No Deal Brexit.

A source close to Mr Hammond pointed out the headroom was simply additional borrowing the government could take out without breaching its spending rules. ‘It’s not free money,’ they said.

Mr Johnson’s upbeat phrase reflects his belief that he can change the political and economic landscape through sheer force of will and self-belief.

But he has yet to explain how he will fund a massive increase in spending if the economy takes a downturn – leading some to fear it may be little more than wishful thinking.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has described Mr Johnson’s long list of costly spending pledges as ‘extraordinary’. While former Tory chairman Lord Patten warned he was in danger of making Labour ‘look like fiscal moderates’.

Mr Johnson’s apparent willingness to hike borrowing is likely to raise eyebrows on financial markets at a time when the UK’s national debt is standing at a record £1.8trillion, equal to 87.4 per cent of GDP.

The Institute for Government also pointed to figures published last year suggesting that leaving the EU without a deal would increase government borrowing by more than £50billion a year, squeezing the scope for investment in other areas.

Nicola Sturgeon says Boris Johnson is putting UK on ‘dangerous path’ by secretly pursuing No Deal Brexit after he tells her UK will quit EU ‘come what may’ on October 31

Boris Johnson kicked off a Brexit row with Remainer Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today by defiantly telling her it was happening on October 31 whether she likes it or not.

On his first visit to Scotland, Mr Johnson told the SNP leader the UK would leave the EU on Halloween ‘come what may’.

But his comments during a head-to-head in Edinburgh sparked a furious response, with the First Minister accusing him of secretly wanting a No Deal Brexit instead of a deal with Brussels.

The Tory leader was booed by protesters as he arrived for the frosty talks in Edinburgh and jeered as he shook hands with the First Minister at her Bute House HQ.

The less-than warm reception came after the premier promised to renew ‘the ties that bind our United Kingdom’ and unveiled plans to release £300million for ‘growth deals’.

Downing Street also suggested he dismissed her demand for a second Scottish independence referendum.

After the talks, a Number 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister said he was a passionate believer in the power of the Union and he would work tirelessly to strengthen the United Kingdom and improve the lives of people right across Scotland.

‘On Brexit, (he) said that while the government’s preference is to negotiate a new deal which abolishes the anti-democratic backstop, the UK will be leaving the EU on October 31st come what may.’

Mrs Sturgeon hit back by accusing Mr Johnson of wanting a No Deal Brexit and said his Government was ‘dangerous’ .

‘He says publicly – and he said it to me again today – that he wants a deal with the EU, but there is no clarity whatsoever about how he thinks he can get from the position now where he’s taking a very hard line – the Withdrawal Agreement is dead, the backstop is dead,’ she said.

‘If I listen to all of that and listen to what’s not being said as well as what is being said, I think that this is a Government that is pursuing a no-deal strategy, however much they may deny that in public.’

Meanwhile Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who also met Mr Johnson, said she had urged him to take part in ‘shuttle diplomacy’ with the EU – after he ruled out meeting EU leaders until they agreed to remove the Irish border backstop fro the Withdrawal Agreement.

Protests were held in Glasgow ahead of Mr Johnson’s arrival to meet Ms Davidson, with opponents wielding posters of his face with the words: ‘No thanks.’

The visit came as Mr Johnson ramps up preparations for crashing out of the EU, after he solemnly vowed to take the UK out of the bloc by the end of October with or without an agreement.

Ms Davidson said the talks with Mr Johnson had been ‘incredibly constructive’.

‘We covered a number of areas, talking about Brexit, the need to make sure we can get a deal across the line, and I support the Prime Minister wholeheartedly in getting that deal,’ she said.

‘We’ve seen a dynamic first week – this is my third conversation with him and he’s already up here, so he’s clearly engaged and wanting to be engaged.

‘He has a very clear idea of what he wants to do and how he wants to get it done.

‘I think that judging by some of the issues we talked about today there’s a real will there to support me in my aim to be able to have the UK Government deliver for Scots.’

Speaking to reporters at Faslane, Mr Johnson said he was ‘with’ Ms Davidson in wanting to get a settlement with the EU – but insisted No Deal must happen if the bloc defies his call to rework the Irish border backstop.

‘It has been the policy of the Government for a long time now to prepare for no deal, and that is what we are going to do with high hearts and growing confidence, we will prepare for a no-deal Brexit,’ he said.

‘If our friends and partners in Brussels will not change the Withdrawal Agreement, if they will not accommodate the will of Parliament which has said three times now that they cannot accept the backstop, then obviously you would expect us to get ready and that is what we will do.’

But he appeared to contradict a claim from Brexit minister Michael Gove that No Deal is now the government’s ‘working assumption’ and a ‘very real possibility’.

He said he stood by his estimate during the Tory leadership campaign that the chances of leaving without an agreement are a ‘million to one’, and said his ‘assumption is that we can get a new deal’.

Mr Johnson is using today’s visit to attempt to reassure Tory supporters that the defence of the Union is a priority.

Last week, Mr Johnson followed through on a symbolic pledge to add the responsibility ‘Minister for the Union’ to the Prime Minister’s official job title.

And he said today: ‘Our Union is the most successful political and economic union in history. We are a global brand and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.

‘So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it’s vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom.

‘I’m proud to be in Scotland today to make clear that I am a passionate believer in our great Union, and I look forward to visiting Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that every decision I make as Prime Minister promotes and strengthens our Union.’

There was little time for niceties as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met new Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Edinburgh's Bute House

There was little time for niceties as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met new Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Edinburgh’s Bute House

The Scottish First Minister has warned she would demand a second independence referendum if Mr Johnson pressed ahead with a No Deal Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon said today: ‘The people of Scotland did not vote for this Tory Government, they didn’t vote for this new Prime Minister, they didn’t vote for Brexit and they certainly didn’t vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for.’

She added: ‘Boris Johnson has formed a hard-line Tory Government with one aim – to take Scotland and the UK out of the EU without a deal.

‘Scotland has been ignored throughout the Brexit process and it is now time for everyone who cares about the future of Scotland to come together to chart our own course and say to the Tories – stop driving our country towards disaster.’

Mr Johnson hit out at the ‘campaign to destroy the union’ from the SNP – and while he refused to unequivocally rule out granting Holyrood permission for a second independence referendum, he said comments that the 2014 ballot was a ‘once in a generation’ event must be respected.

Asked if he was ruling out a second referendum during his premiership, Mr Johnson said: ‘It was a once in a generation consultation of the people, we did it in 2014 and the people were assured then that it was a once in a generation consultation.

‘I see no reason now for the politicians to go back on that promise.’

Mr Johnson heaped praise on Ms Davidson, saying: ‘I am lost in admiration at what she has achieved, I am a massive fan of the way she has taken the argument to those who would destroy our union.’

The PM had separate meetings with the First Minister and Ms Davidson this afternoon after visiting HM Naval Base Clyde in Argyll.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Davidson said she could not support a No Deal Brexit in any circumstances, pointing out that she is under no obligation to sign up to his timetable of taking the UK out of the EU by October 31.

She said the PM had her ‘full support’ in pursuing a revised deal which could ensure an orderly exit from the EU. But she added: ‘Where I differ with the UK Government is on the question of a No Deal Brexit.

‘When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union.

‘I don’t think the UK Government should pursue a No Deal Brexit, and if it comes to it, I won’t support it.’

Ms Davidson, who played a key role in persuading Theresa May that a No Deal Brexit posed a risk to the Union, is expected to repeat the message to Mr Johnson.

Britain's new Prime Minister missed the first meeting of his new Exit Strategy Committee to head north of the border

Britain’s new Prime Minister missed the first meeting of his new Exit Strategy Committee to head north of the border

Mr Johnson missed the first meeting of the Exit Strategy committee – known as XS – as he made his debut visit to Scotland.

No-deal planning supremo Michael Gove chaired the XS committee in his absence.

He will also lead meetings of the Daily Operations Committee, covering all aspects of the Government’s preparations for leaving.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stepped up the rhetoric again by warning that Brussels was ‘not the only game in town’ for trade pacts, saying he would be focusing on strengthening ties with the US, Asia and Latin America.

He said the ‘stubborn’ EU would be to blame if the UK ends up crashing out.

Mr Raab said while there are no ‘firm plans’ yet, the Government will be using Parliament’s summer recess to approach ‘growth markets’ in Asia, Latin America, and the US to push for future trade deals.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I haven’t set the firm plans yet, but that will include the US, Latin America, and Asia because the negotiation with the EU is crucially important and we would love to get a deal that is acceptable to the UK, but Brussels is not the only game in town.

‘The opportunities of Brexit involve many of those growth markets of the future from Latin America to Asia, and we have got a US President who is speaking very warmly about this country.’

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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