BORIS Johnson delivered Theresa May a Brexit boost yesterday after saying he would back her deal if she manages to win an 18-month time limit to the backstop.
The former Foreign Secretary said he would back a deal with the backstop still in place – as long as it is time-limited to end before the 2022 General Election.
He said Britain must also be given a way to exit the backstop unilaterally in order for the PM to gain his support for the deal.
Mr Johnson’s move to lay out the price for his support delivers a chink of hope for Mrs May’s Brexit deal.
And it marks a crucial split with the hardline Brexiteer ERG group, made up of about 60 backbench Tory MPs.
Its leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he will only back Mrs May’s Brexit deal if the backstop is removed entirely from her Withdrawal Agreement and replaced by “alternative arrangements” to avoid the return of a hard border with Ireland.
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Setting out his conditions for backing Mrs May’s deal, Mr Johnson told an audience in Westminster yesterday: “It is vital that in the course of the next few days or weeks our Prime Minister does find a way out of that backstop and creates a UK-sized exit.
“In my view it has got to be a time limit that falls before the next General Election if it has any meaning – and it must be an exit route that we are capable of exercising on our own.
“If we can change the backstop and if we can get our way in Brussels – which by the way I’m sure that with sufficient willpower and energy we can – then we are at the races.”
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