Boris Johnson sets out ‘Super Canada’ Brexit blueprint to rival Theresa May’s Chequers plan

Former foreign secretary is calling for Britain and the EU to negotiate a free-trade agreement that mirrors the deal the bloc signed with Ottawa in 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 10:56pm

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson unveiled his vision for Brexit on Friday, urging Prime Minister Theresa May to “chuck” her so-called Chequers plan for a “Super Canada” trade deal.

The ardent Brexiteer, who resigned from the government in July over the issue, described her current proposals for Britain’s future relationship with the EU as “moral and intellectual humiliation”.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Johnson outlined a six-point alternative plan, that would scrap a backstop agreement struck with the European Union last December over the contentious Irish border.

He argued that adopting technology and making customs checks away from the frontier would prevent a return to a hard border – a sticking point in negotiations and a key factor in May’s proposal.

Johnson called for Britain and the EU to negotiate a free-trade agreement – dubbed “Super Canada” – mirroring the deal the bloc signed with Ottawa in 2016.

It removed the vast majority of customs duties on exports crossing the Atlantic.

He conceded that negotiating such an agreement, which would aim for mutual recognition of standards to keep goods moving and also include services, may require extending any Brexit transition period beyond 2020.

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“This is the moment to change the course of the negotiations and do justice to the ambitions and potential of Brexit,” Johnson wrote in the 4,500-word article. “We have the chance to get it right, and I am afraid that future generations will not lightly forgive us if we fail.”

His intervention, on the eve of the Conservative Party conference – where he will address a fringe event on Tuesday – is set to increase pressure on embattled leader May.

She has proposed Britain follow EU rules in trade in goods after Brexit, to protect manufacturing supply lines and avoid the hard border between Northern Ireland, a British province, and EU member Ireland.

The plan, forged in July at May’s country retreat Chequers, has faced strong opposition among Conservatives and criticism from Brussels, but May has repeatedly vowed to stick with it.

Johnson reiterated on Friday the proposal was a “democratic disaster” that would “cheat the electorate” and leave Britain “half in, half out” of the EU.

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Reports earlier this week suggested more than half of the cabinet now favour a Canada-style agreement, with Brexit expected to overshadow the divided party’s annual gathering starting Sunday.

Britain is set to leave the EU next March, with both sides agreeing that a provisional divorce deal, comprising assurances on the Irish border among other things, must be reached by mid-November.