British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged politicians in the House of Commons Thursday to back the new proposals he has submitted to Brussels to pave the way for Britain to leave the European Union on Oct. 31.
With the message: “This is our chance to get a deal, the people of this country have had enough of dither and delay,” Johnson admitted that Britain had made compromises in the quest to end an impasse that has lasted over three years.
But his deal came under attack from the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Ian Blackford.
Blackford told the Commons that Johnson’s proposals were unacceptable, unworkable and undeliverable.
He added: “It is a plan designed to fail and the prime minister knows that.”
Under the deal, the EU-demanded backstop arrangement to avoid the need for a frontier between the Irish Republic and British-controlled Northern Ireland would be dropped.
Instead a regulatory trade arrangement would keep Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in a single trade zone, while all of the UK, including Northern Ireland, would come out of the EU Customs Union.
Corbyn described Johnson’s proposals as a rehash of the three-times rejected Brexit deal put forward by his predecessor Theresa May.
He added that the deal could be even worse in parts than the one May had proposed, adding that in three years the Conservative government has not found an answer to the Northern Ireland issue.
Corbyn called for an extension to Britain’s membership of the EU, and then allow the population to decide whether to accept sensible proposals or to stay in the bloc.
Johnson told MPs: “This government’s objective has always been to leave with a deal. And these constructive and reasonable proposals show our seriousness of purpose.”
He said the proposals sent to Brussels were a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, and to go the extra mile as time runs short.
He added: “If our European neighbors choose not to show a corresponding willingness to reach a deal, then we shall have to leave on 31 October without an agreement, and we are ready to do so.”
Although Johnson’s proposals have received a frosty reception from mainland Europe and the Irish Republic, they have so far not been flatly rejected.
Johnson told MPs he had constructive telephone conversions Wednesday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
The European Council is due to meet on Oct. 17 in Brussels when leaders of the 27 member states of the bloc are expected to make a final decision on a deal.