June 20, 2019 12:14 PM
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has told the BBC there is no prospect of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement being renegotiated before 31 October (or later), whilst Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is to give a stark warning to Boris Johnson that he is pursuing economically irresponsible ideas and will have to face up to the prospect of giving the British people the final say on Brexit in a new referendum.
Rutte told the BBC that the EU would consider reopening the non-binding political declaration but gave a blunt “no” reply when asked if there was any prospect of a future Prime Minister Johnson being able to pick apart the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement.
Listen to the BBC interview – It’s 2 hours 10 minutes into the Today programme, i.e. the key 08:10 interview.
He said, “what we could do is look together, collectively again at the political agreement which is below the withdrawal agreement – the political declaration.”
Specifically on the question of the Irish backstop, Rutte warned that Boris Johnson’s approach risked breaking the Good Friday Agreement:“Let’s go through that idea – you have a time limit on the backstop. That means in four, five, six years time if there is no other solution for the border issue, and I don’t think we’ll be able to have anything in place in four, fix, six years. Purely technically, and logistically.
“It will be a hard border in your scenario in four, five years. And do we want that? I don’t think so because this is the end of the Good Friday Agreement.”
The Chancellor will use his Mansion House speech to warn that a destructive No Deal would empty the Treasury’s coffers and will warn that Conservatives “cannot allow ourselves to be forced to choose between our democracy and our prosperity” before saying that, however reluctantly, Boris Johnson will have to consider a People’s Vote: “If the new Prime Minister cannot end the deadlock in Parliament, then he will have to explore other democratic mechanisms to break the impasse.
“Because if he fails, his job will be on the line – and so, too, will the jobs and prosperity of millions of our fellow citizens.”
Commenting, Rachel Reeves MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“The Dutch Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are doing the one thing that Boris Johnson hates more any other: telling the truth about Brexit.
“Neither Mark Rutte nor Philip Hammond get many laughs, but they are serious and responsible figures who deserve to be listened to at this crucial time for our country.
“The Prime Minister of the Netherlands this morning exposed the vacuity of Boris Johnson’s renegotiation fantasies. And this evening, the Chancellor will blow a huge hole in the idea that forcing a destructive No Deal Brexit on the British people has even the semblance of economic or political credibility.
“In the weeks ahead, Mr Johnson will have to face up to the truth. Brexit cannot be bumbled through and nobody finds it funny to be threatened with losing their job. He has no serious or credible plan A, never mind plan B, for Brexit. His toying with a destructive No Deal is beyond irresponsible.
“As soon as he becomes Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold the fate of hundreds of thousands of jobs in his hands. The decisions he makes will quickly determine what happens to our car and steel industries, to the availability of medicines and to the sustainability of investment in public services.
“He does not have the permission of the British people to inflict either his hard Brexit on us or a No Deal departure from the EU. Nor can the 0.25% of our population who have votes in the Conservative leadership contest ever be considered as giving a mandate.
“As sensible Conservatives like Philip Hammond are now reluctantly having to accept, the only way to settle this crisis is to give the public a final say in a People’s Vote.”