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12.42 3 Oct 2019


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The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs that his latest Brexit proposals are "a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm".

Mr Johnson is defending his new plans in the House of Commons today which would see the replacement of the backstop in Northern Ireland which he says requires no need for checks at or near the border.

The "new protocol on Northern Ireland/Ireland" revealed yesterday proposes that Northern Ireland leaves the Customs Union but follows EU regulations for at least four years.

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Mr Johnson said the UK government's objective "has always been to leave with a deal" and that his "constructive and reasonable proposals" indicate their "seriousness of purpose".

He said: "They do not deliver everything we would have wished, they do represent a compromise but to remain a prisoner of existing positions is to become a  cause of deadlock rather than breakthrough.

"We have made a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable  and to go the extra mile as time runs short.

He said the proposals should now form the basis for "rapid negotiations" with the EU.

The UK government has shown "great flexibility" in attempting to reach an agreement with its counterparts in Europe.

He continued: "If our European neighbours choose not to show a corresponding willingness to reach a deal then we will have to leave on October 31 without an agreement and we are ready to do so.

"But that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which all parties would be held responsible."

Mr Johnson claimed the EU has reacted constructively to his plans but Labour said they are just "a re-hashed version of previously rejected proposals".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the proposals were "simply unworkable".

He said: "This is not a serious proposal to break the deadlock, instead these proposals are nothing but a cynical attempt by the Prime Minister to shift the blame for his failure to deliver."

Main image: Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons today. Photo:  House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

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