UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to exit the European Union in a way that causes least damage to the British economy is going badly – her proposals have been repeatedly shot down by the top EU diplomat Michel Barnier and she has little support for it in her own country. But what is worse is the line many in her own political party have taken against it.
The man at the forefront of protest against May’s Brexit plan also known as the Chequers plan is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Johnson quit his position over the prime minister’s decision to go ahead with the Chequers plan.
The Chequers plan proposes the UK adopt a common rule book for food and goods but not services with the European Union.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Johnson accused May of repeatedly caving in over Brexit terms to the EU and its chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, saying that “in the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants”.
He wrote: “Under the Chequers proposal we are set to agree to accept their rules – forever – with no say on the making of those rules. It is a humiliation. We look like a seven-stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla.”
Using strong language, Johnson also criticised the so-called backstop plan to ensure no hard Irish border, which would see Northern Ireland effectively remain part of the single market of the EU if no other workable solution is found for the UK. Almost all in the UK government agree that there should be no hard border with substantial physical infrastructure between Ireland and Northern Ireland. All have failed to find an answer to the conundrum of how the UK can be outside the EU Customs Union and Ireland still in it without some checks at the border about goods entering and leaving the two entities.
Johnson wrote: “We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail. We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.”
May’s soft-Brexit plan would expose U.K. business to “potentially hostile regulation over which we have no control whatever,” according to Johnson. “It means we can’t do any real free trade deals,” he wrote. “It means we are a vassal state.”
The column is Johnson’s second intervention in a week, after writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday that the Chequers plan would be a “disaster” for the U.K.
In a separate column in the same newspaper, current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended the government’s Chequers plan and called on the country to “unite behind May,” claiming she is “better than anyone I know at holding the line in the face of intense pressure.”