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News > United Kingdom

Boris Johnson Promotes UK 'Freedom Clause' to Avoid Irish Backstop, Secure Support for May

  • Signs are seen outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain Jan. 28, 2019.

    Signs are seen outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain Jan. 28, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 January 2019

Boris Johnson advised UK Prime Minister Theresa May to secure more support for Brexit by convincing the EU to drop the Irish backstop. 

Boris Johnson, the most prominent Brexit campaigner in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party said Monday that she would get widespread support if she got the European Union to ditch the Irish backstop.


UK Government Can Declare Martial Law Upon No-Deal Brexit

With less than nine weeks until Mar. 29, the day the United Kingdom is due by law to leave the European Union, there is no agreement yet in London on how and even whether to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc.

Parliament defeated May’s deal two weeks ago by a huge margin with many Brexit supporters in her party angry at the Irish backstop, an insurance policy aimed at preventing a hard border in Ireland if no other solutions can be agreed.

“The PM wants to get rid of the backstop,” Boris Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph, saying May could insert a “Freedom Clause” to allow the United Kingdom to get out of the backstop without the agreement of the EU.

“If the PM secures that change – a proper UK-sized perforation in the fabric of the backstop itself - I have no doubt that she will have the whole country full-throatedly behind her,” Johnson said.

He said very senior sources in the government had told him that May would seek binding legal changes to the deal she agreed to in November with the EU. Ireland has said it doesn’t want any changes to the backstop.

On Jan. 29, parliament will debate May’s proposed next steps as well as alternative plans put forward by lawmakers, including some that seek to delay Britain’s exit by requesting an extension to the Article 50 negotiation period.

Prominent Brexit-supporting lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that May’s deal could be made acceptable to eurosceptic rebels in the Conservative Party if the Irish backstop was removed or nullified.

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