The former foreign secretary last night unveiled his own “plan for a better Brexit” – just two days before Theresa May faces her divided party at the Conservative conference.
Mr Johnson’s proposals are based on a “Super Canada” free trade agreement with the EU which he says would allow Britain to seize the opportunities presented by the split.
But Chris Heaton-Harris today dismissed the “six-point plan”, saying Brussels would reject it immediately.
He said: “This is not a workable or negotiable plan for Brexit – as both sides have made clear on several occasions, no deal is available without a guarantee that there would be no hard border in Northern Ireland in any eventuality, the so-called Irish backstop.”
Entrepreneurs and business people know what this country needs more than Boris Johnson
Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt warned the UK Government’s plans for immigration after the split would prompt retaliatory action from the EU.
Under new proposals, European citizens will face the same immigration rules as people from the rest of the world with “skills, not nationality” the test for people seeking to move to the UK.
But Mr Verhofstadt has warned of a tit-for-tat response.
He has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid advising any discrimination among EU nationals on the basis of nationality or employment “would apply reciprocally to UK citizens moving to the EU 26”.
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Brexit news: Boris Johnson’s plans for the split have been branded ‘unworkable’
4.50pm: Brexit minister DISMISSES Boris Johnson’s plan for split – ‘It’s UNWORKABLE’
Boris Johnson’s proposals for a “Super Canada” free trade deal are “unworkable” and would never be accepted by the EU, Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris has declared.
Mr Johnson last night released his “plan for a better Brexit” based on a tariff-free trading arrangement with the bloc which would not require the UK to remain part of the customs union or single market.
As part of his plan, the former foreign secretary said the UK should demand an immediate renegotiation of the ‘backstop’ solution for the Irish border – a step he acknowledged would be problematic.
The contingency plan would effectively keep Northern Ireland inside the customs union to avoid the need for a hard border unless an alternative is agreed.
But Mr Heaton-Harris today dismissed Mr Johnson’s proposals.
He said: “This is not a workable or negotiable plan for Brexit – as both sides have made clear on several occasions, no deal is available without a guarantee that there would be no hard border in Northern Ireland in any eventuality, the so-called Irish backstop.
“The Government is united behind the Prime Minister’s efforts to negotiate a good deal that works in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”
Michel Barnier said he was committed to seeing out the Brexit talks
2.30pm: ‘I need to focus on Brexit’ Barnier reveals he will NOT stand for top EU job
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has ruled himself out of the race to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the European Commission.
Mr Barnier said he would not stand for the EU’s top job because he needs to remain focused on the Brexit talks.
The current Commission boss, Mr Juncker, is due to step down after the European Parliament elections in May.
Michel Barnier, who is from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest bloc in the European Parliament, had been tipped as his potential successor.
He said: “I have decided today not to run for the nomination as the EPP’s European elections lead campaigner.
“We are in the final stretch of a serious and complex negotiation on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom. It is my duty to remain engaged with all my energy and determination.”
Under the Spitzenkandidat system, the party groupings in the European Parliament each choose a lead candidate to campaign across the EU and challenge each other in debates.
One of the candidates – most probably the nominee of the grouping that wins the most seats in the parliament – is then chosen by the European Council, made up of EU leaders, to be the commission president.
It was first used in 2014 when Mr Juncker became president, having beaten Mr Barnier for the EEP nomination.
However it is unclear whether it will be used again after it was heavily criticised by EU leaders – including French President Emmanuel Macron – who want a greater say over appointing the EU’s top official.
Harvey Gavin taking over from Simon Osborne on live reporting.
11.58am update: Manufacturers question Johnson’s SuperCanada vision
Stephen Phipson, the chief executive of the EEF manufacturers’ organisation, said it was is “pure fantasy” to suggest Boris Johnson’s proposal for a Canada-style trade deal free trade deal with the EU would provide a workable solution for industry.
He said: ”It would put thousands of manufacturing jobs and hundreds of billions of pounds of exports at risk and, at worst, could destroy much of Britain’s manufacturing base.”
10.33am update: Nicky Morgan mocks Johnson over SuperCanada
Former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan has mocked Boris Johnson as Tory infighting intensifies.
Ms Morgan tweeted: “I said Boris had to decide if he was a politician or a journalist – he’s clearly made his decision but shame he didn’t research the link between agreeing a solution that keeps the Irish border frictionless and the chances of agreeing to withdrawal terms.
“Or does he just not care?”
9.53am update: Labour frontbencher claims Tories “are out of ideas”
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said Boris Johnson’s intervention proved the Tories only had “internal warfare” left.
He said: “As Boris Johnson says, there has been ‘a collective failure of government’. But not just on Brexit – on housing, education, community safety, on our NHS, public services and utilities.
“It’s clearer than ever that the Tories have run out of ideas. All they have left is internal warfare and continued austerity.”
Mr Verhofstadt warned of reciprocal action from the EU for the UK’s Brexit immigration plans
9.17am update: Lib Dem MP brands Boris Johnson “a disgrace”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said Mr Johnson’s comments were nothing more than a “half-baked, sloppy rant”.
She said: “The blue-on-blue in-fighting has already kicked off ahead of Tory conference.
“But while Johnson is being paid hundreds of thousands to belch out the first thing that comes to mind on page, there are businesses up and down the country wondering whether they’ll still exist after Brexit.
“It’s a disgrace that he can’t take the most important decision facing this generation seriously.”
Mr Johnson said Theresa May’s plans for Brexit are a ‘humiliation’ for the UK
8.55am update: Business “unprepared for no-deal Brexit”
A British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey has found nearly two-thirds of businesses have yet to do any risk assessment of a no-deal outcome in the Brexit negotiations as “Brexit fatigue” sets in.
With six months to go until the UK leaves the EU, the BCC said many small and medium-sized businesses were “either awaiting more
clarity before they act or are suffering from Brexit fatigue and have switched off from the process because they don’t believe they will be affected”.
BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Too many businesses across the UK are still not ready for Brexit.
“Many smaller firms don’t have the capacity to scenario plan, don’t think they’ll be affected or have simply switched off from the process altogether.”
8.03am update: Pound resilient despite Tory Brexit conflict
The pound showed resilience in early trading despite market turbulence caused by Boris Johnson’s latest intervention on Brexit.
Sterling was up 0.1 percent against the euro at €1.1244, and down 0.1 percent against the dollar at $ 1.3067.
Mr Johnson sparked more Tory infighting when he described Theresa May’s Brexit plans as “humiliating”.
He has unveiled his own propsals for a trade deal with the EU which he described as SuperCanada.
Boris Johnson’s plans have been dismissed by Sir Richard Branson
7.30am update: Branson dismisses Johnson’s Brexit vision
Billionaire Richard Branson has poured scorn on Boris Johnson’s Brexit vision and warned leaving the EU will be a “disaster” for the UK and Europe.
The Virgin boss also backed calls for second referendum and said he though it “quite likely that sense will finally prevail”.
Sir Richard said: “I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer just what a disaster it is and I just hope that ultimately it doesn’t go through.
“I listened to Boris Johnson and I also listened to the words he said about entrepreneurs and business people.
“I do personally think that entrepreneurs and business people know what this country needs more than Boris Johnson knows.
“I hope ultimately sense prevails and there’s a big re-think and the British people have a chance to vote on whatever is negotiated in the end.”