PM shifts position
Johnson: Brexit Deal ‘touch and go’ as MSPs plan No Deal message
Donald Tusk and Boris Johnson at the G7 Summit
Boris Johnson now rates the chance of a Brexit deal as “touch and go”, drawing back on his claims just weeks ago that a no-deal outcome was “a million to one”.
However, there was a further indication of a more conciliatory tone from the EU after Donald Tusk, president of the EU council, told the Prime Minister that the EU is open to alternatives to the Irish backstop.
In an interview at the G7 summit in France, Mr Johnson said the likelihood of a deal it depends on our EU friends and partners”.
When pressed on the chances, he said: “I think it’s going to be touch and go. But the important thing is to get ready to come out without a deal.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented on Twitter: “A ‘million to one chance’ to ‘touch and go’ in the space of a few weeks. Boris Johnson’s carefree recklessness really is shameful.”
Mr Johnson said he was an “optimist” and thought the EU would understand there is an “opportunity to do a deal”.
He also said if there is no deal, the UK would keep a “very substantial” part of the £39bn Theresa May had agreed to pay the EU in her withdrawal agreement. Reports said he would pay only £9bn.
“If we come out without an agreement it is certainly true that the £39 billion is no longer, strictly speaking, owed,” he said.
“There will be very substantial sums available to our country to spend on our prioritiesIt’s not a threat – it’s a simple fact of reality.”.
The Scottish Government wants other parties to send a united “No-deal” Brexit message to Downing Street.
Constitution Secretary Michael Russell has thrown down a challenge to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and her party to support a motion making clear the Scottish Parliament’s opposition to “No-deal” in all circumstances.
Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have all indicated support for a debate in the first week of the new Parliamentary session.
Michael Russell said the UK government was pursuing a disastrous policy and it was essential that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to have its say while there is still time to stop it.
“It is more important than ever for politicians and parties to work together in Scotland and across the UK to do as much as we can to make the new Prime Minister change course,” he said.
“For the Scottish Tories this could be a defining moment. Their leader in the Scottish Parliament says she is opposed to a No-Deal Brexit. This is an opportunity to make that opposition crystal clear and unambiguous.
“Do Tory MSPs support taking Scotland and the UK of the cliff-edge whatever the costs to jobs and living standards – or are they going to join with other parties to send a message to the UK Government that this reckless plan must be halted now?
“Crashing out of the EU without a deal is in no one’s interest and I hope the Parliament can come together and unanimously agree that a No-deal Brexit should be ruled out in all circumstances.”
At the G7 the PM received more promising news that the US President Donald Trump is ready to discuss a trade deal between the UK and the US.
Meanwhile, former chancellor Philip Hammond has written to the PM about the leaked Operation Yellowhammer documents on preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
He said it was now apparent the document was dated August 2019, contrary to claims that it was “outdated” and that it had been leaked by a minister from Mrs May’s government.
Ms Sturgeon said: “This is extraordinary – and surely demands a clear response from the PM and any serving minister who said it was an out of date document.”