LONDON (AFP) – Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be Britain’s next prime minister, suggested on Wednesday that the European Union (EU) would bear some responsibility if he took his country out of the bloc without a divorce deal.
The former London mayor has based his campaign to replace Theresa May on a promise to deliver Brexit as planned on October 31, with or without an agreement with Brussels.
In a final campaign event in London ahead of the announcement of the winner next week, Johnson said that he would seek to negotiate new exit terms with the EU over the summer.
But he said that if the EU refused to be flexible or compromise on the existing withdrawal agreement, “if they won’t change a dot or a comma… then obviously we have no choice but to get ready to come out on different terms”.
EU leaders have repeatedly said they will not renegotiate the divorce text they struck with May last year, even though it has been rejected by British lawmakers three times.
But Johnson and his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, insisted they will try, notably by removing the controversial “backstop” plan to keep open the border with Ireland.
They have threatened to walk away if they fail – tough talk that caused the pound to fall on Wednesday to its lowest level against the US dollar in more than two years.
May is stepping down after failing to get her divorce deal through Parliament, an effort that forced her to delay Brexit twice.