Brexit trade talks remain in a state of deadlock as the EU and the UK both hold firm on their respective demands. But Conservative Party MP Andrew Bridgen told Express.co.uk that an agreement can still be reached, adding that history is on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s side. He explained that, during a stalemate in the withdrawal negotiations, the UK sent a warning to the EU which gained a key concession three days later. He said: “During the withdrawal agreement talks, when we were a minority government, Boris said ‘you’ve got to reopen the withdrawal agreement’.
“The EU replied ‘under no circumstances will we do that, that was already agreed with Theresa May.
“We said the backstop must be taken out, and within three days they did, didn’t they.”
Theresa May had agreed with the EU to implement a backstop in her withdrawal agreement, effectively an insurance policy that meant the Irish border remains open (as it is today) whatever the outcome of the UK and the EU’s negotiations.
However, despite EU certainty this arrangement would not be changed, Mr Johnson secured a different agreement.
He settled on a system that effectively formed a customs border down the Irish Sea, leaving Northern Ireland’s border open with the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Irish First Minister Arlene Foster described the move as a “betrayal”.
Mr Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, claims that the fact the UK was holding a general election in December also helped secure concessions from the EU.
He continued: “They knew we would have a general election, I personally told the Dutch embassy ‘we are having an election, we are going to win, and if you open the withdrawal agreement, we will have a transition period in our manifesto’.
“But I warned ‘if you don’t reopen the withdrawal agreement, we will have an election, and in our manifesto it will say we are leaving with no transition – so make your mind up’.
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During the referendum campaign in 2016, leavers such as Boris Johnson vowed that the UK will be free from EU regulation and will take full control of its fishing grounds.
While the PM wants a trade deal, the EU’s negotiator – Michel Barnier – has told the UK it must accept a “level playing field” and leaves its fishing grounds open if it is to keep access to European markets.