Boris Johnson on Monday stepped up preparations for a normal election as concern mounts in Downing Road that the prime minister’s try and engineer a Brexit deal is heading for failure.
As a substitute of touring European capitals making an attempt to promote his proposed deal, Mr Johnson spent a part of the day in a Watford hospital, the most recent in a collection of journeys to medical centres to advertise his injection of money into the Nationwide Well being Service.
The prime minister’s Brexit plan has been rejected by the EU on a number of counts and there’s little signal of the type of intensive diplomatic exercise which may usually be anticipated by a authorities trying to break the impasse, with a key Brussels summit on October 17-18.
“The ball is of their courtroom,” mentioned one British official. “Thus far they haven’t moved a millimetre.” In Brussels discuss is popping to providing Britain an extension to the Article 50 Brexit course of, slightly than any real looking prospect of a deal subsequent week.
Mr Johnson’s closest advisers admit that the prime minister may very well be pressured — towards his will — to hunt such an extension by the so-called Benn Act, the regulation that requires him to jot down a letter searching for a delay to Brexit if no deal is agreed by October 19.
“If we are able to’t cheat the Benn Act, there can be an election quickly,” one aide mentioned. A plan is being ready to attempt to keep away from Mr Johnson getting the blame if he doesn’t ship on his “do or die” promise to ship Brexit on October 31.
Mr Johnson is predicted to problem the Benn Act within the courts; if he loses he would then inform voters that he tried each doable path to ship Brexit however that an obstructive parliament and Brussels prevented him from doing so.
In the meantime Quantity 10 is placing the ending touches to the Queen’s Speech on October 14, which can set out the federal government’s legislative programme, together with reforms to well being and schooling.
It’ll in impact see the monarch learn out the contents of the following Conservative manifesto; since Mr Johnson has no Commons majority, he can’t count on to place any of his proposals into regulation on this parliament.
David Frost, Mr Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, held talks with the European Fee on Monday and remained in Brussels in a single day for additional talks on Tuesday, hoping to start detailed authorized negotiations.
In the meantime Mr Johnson held phone conversations along with his counterparts in Poland, Sweden and Denmark, however he has not made any visits to European capitals since publishing his Brexit plan final week and none are deliberate.
The EU has rejected the centrepiece of Mr Johnson’s plan, which might see Northern Eire stay within the UK customs space, creating a brand new customs border between the area and the Republic of Eire.
It has additionally opposed the concept that the Democratic Unionist occasion might — in impact — have a veto over a separate proposal to maintain Northern Eire within the EU regulatory space, to cut back the necessity for checks on the border.
Though British officers say that they’re prepared to maneuver on the “consent” level, the actual impediment over customs seems as insuperable as ever.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman informed journalists: “In case your query is are we ready for Northern Eire to be in a distinct customs territory to the UK, the reply is a really agency no.”
The fee mentioned on Friday that Mr Johnson’s new Brexit proposal didn’t present the idea for concluding an settlement.
EU diplomats mentioned that technical-level talks in Brussels on Monday between UK negotiator Mr Frost and the fee had failed to interrupt new floor.
One diplomat mentioned that there had been “no adjustments to the UK place on the key stuff”.
A UK authorities spokesperson mentioned that Britain introduced “extra authorized textual content” offering “additional technical element on customs and items rules”.
An EU diplomat mentioned that a part of Monday’s talks involved the UK’s want to have a future relationship with the EU based mostly round a commerce deal slightly than the nearer co-operation foreseen by Theresa Could, Mr Johnson’s predecessor.