Boris Johnson has been ‘beautifully played’ by EU, says former Europe Minister

Written by Martin Banks on 18 October 2019 in News
News

Denis MacShane argues that new Brexit deal has ‘increased power of pro EU forces in Northern Ireland’.

Photo credit: Press Association


The former Labour MP said, “Unless there are dramatic new changes to the [Withdrawal] text it is hard to see Boris Johnson having a majority for what is a worse version of Theresa May’s text which was rejected three times by MPs.”

MacShane, says he believes, “Boris Johnson has been beautifully played by Michel Barnier who has inserted the EU into Northern Ireland and increased the power of pro EU politicians in Northern Ireland including in Sinn Fein.”

“Johnson’s U-turn after three years of attacking Mrs May is spectacular… but MPs are unpersuaded by his bombast.”


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Meanwhile, liberal MEP Bill Newton Dunn warned that Boris Johnson still has an uphill task getting his new Brexit deal through the UK’s House of Commons this weekend. The veteran member told The Parliament Magazine, “There is still a long way to go,” and predicted a “knife edge” vote on the draft when British MPs vote on it on Saturday.

He said, “Boris will be offering peerages left and right to get votes by bribery. But MEPs have the final say, probably next week in Strasbourg when I shall vote No.”

“Boris Johnson has been beautifully played by Michel Barnier who has inserted the EU into Northern Ireland and increased the power of pro EU politicians in Northern Ireland including in Sinn Fein” Denis MacShane, former British Europe Minister

The Briton did not hold back in his language, saying, “I think what’s utterly appalling is that this has become a game of macho chicken. Nobody mentions the businesses and people - but then Boris said, ‘fuck business’, didn’t he?”

“He is entirely out for his narcissistic self. This is a sad, sad day for Britain if he succeeds.”

Socialist member Rory Palmer told the Parliament Magazine, “This is a terrible deal, it's worse than the one negotiated by Theresa May on every front.”

“The Political Declaration is non-binding, there is no mention of the Level Playing Field for rights and standards in the legal and formal Withdrawal Agreement. Are we really meant to trust Boris Johnson to keep to the spirit and letter of the Political Declaration in vital areas like employment rights and environmental standards, really?”

Palmer warned that any Brexit deal should not be rushed through the British parliamentary process. “Select Committees in Westminster need time to scrutinise the full implications as do the Committees of the European Parliament. The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration total 91 pages.” 

“He [Boris Johnson] is entirely out for his narcissistic self. This is a sad, sad day for Britain if he succeeds” Bill Newton Dunn, Liberal member

“On Saturday the House of Commons is scheduled to sit for less than five hours. These are decisions of the most historic and fundamental importance. When I was in local government, decisions on grass cutting would have more detail attached and be subject to more scrutiny than this, it's ludicrous.”

“This must go back to the British people for their consent or rejection, and with the opportunity to keep the deal we have now as members of the EU,” he added.

However, Tory MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament, welcomed the outcome, telling this site, “There is a sigh of relief in Brussels as a new Brexit deal is agreed. One European Commissioner came up to me and said that Boris had negotiated brilliantly”.

“On Saturday the House of Commons is scheduled to sit for less than five hours… When I was in local government, decisions on grass cutting would have more detail attached and be subject to more scrutiny than this, it's ludicrous” Rory Palmer, Socialist MEP

Van Orden noted, “Now we have to see what happens in the House of Commons. We shall see the reality of all those that said they would block ‘no deal’. Now we have a deal, a good deal, and they should support it if they were really acting out of principle”.

“The Prime Minister is a staunch Unionist - so am I - I hope the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will feel able to support him. Northern Ireland will leave the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK and so will naturally enjoy future international trade deals. There will be a need for some checks at the Irish Sea. But some such measures have already existed for decades, for live animals for example”.

The veteran MEP went on, “Three months ago we were told the draft Withdrawal Agreement could not be reopened, the “backstop” could not be removed, and there would have to be subservience to EU laws and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Now we have a fresh draft, no backstop, and no ECJ. Treatment of citizens and the money stay as agreed along with the all-important implementation period until December 2020.”

He said, “This clears the decks for negotiation of a good free trade agreement with the EU. Let’s hope Westminster is at last willing to agree so that we can get on with all the other issues that we need to address. And we must lift our sights to the world beyond Europe, where we have so many historic advantages.” 

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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