Johnson offers olive branch to Farage by ruling out extending Brexit transition period beyond 2020

Boris Johnson’s olive branch to Nigel Farage: PM rules out extending the Brexit transition period beyond 2020 amid pressure on Brexit Party leader to pull most of his candidates out of election to avoid splitting vote

  • Mr Johnson said: ‘We will not extend transition period beyond the end of 2020’
  • Brexit Party on course to contest every seat across England, Scotland and Wales 
  • Nigel Farage offered Boris Johnson a ‘Leave Alliance’ but the PM rejected pact 
  • Mr Farage expected to target Leave-voting seats at election on December 12 

Boris Johnson has offered an olive branch to Nigel Farage by ruling out extending the Brexit transition period beyond 2020.

In the Prime Minister’s Sunday evening Twitter video he stressed that his agreement with the EU allowed him to pursue a Canada-style free trade deal with the Bloc and would be free of any political alignment. 

The Brexit Party leader has said he will pitch candidates in 600 constituencies unless Mr Johnson agrees to go for the hardest possible withdrawal in the form of No Deal or a ‘clean-break Brexit.’

But Mr Farage is facing calls to back down amid fears he could dash Brexit altogether if the Tories haemorrhage too many seats to the Brexit Party and allow Labour and the Liberal Democrats to succeed.

Mr Johnson said in his video: ‘It’s a fantastic deal it means we can take back control of our money our borders, our laws, as soon as we come out of the EU.

‘And of course it enables us to do a big free trade deal with our EU friends and partners. And I want to stress that that will be a straightforward free trade agreement with no political alignment.

Farage

The Prime Minister’s Sunday night Twitter video said: ‘We can get the fantastic new free trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020. And we will no extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020’ (pictured: the PM, left, Farage on the campaign trail, right)

‘There’s no need for that at all. We can have a free trade agreement on the model of a Super Canada Plus arrangement.  

‘We can get the fantastic new free trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020. And we will not extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020.

‘There’s absolutely no need to do that. So fantastic new deal, let’s get Brexit done, and then build a new partnership with the EU and do free trade deals around the world.’ 

The Mail on Sunday revealed that a close confidant of Mr Farage has held talks with senior Tory ‘power brokers’ over a deal to pull the vast majority of Brexit Party candidates out of the election. 

In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels after winning a majority.

Such a position would represent a climb-down by Mr Farage because he has been campaigning for a No Deal Brexit.

The offer, made by former Ukip treasurer Andrew Reid, comes as friends of Mr Farage say that he is ‘feeling the heat’ over his defiant insistence on fielding hundreds of Brexit Party candidates.

The Brexit Party has been sent thousands of emails since the Daily Mail made its front-page appeal on Saturday for Mr Farage to give Mr Johnson a clear run at victory on December 12.  

As pressure mounted, Mr Farage pulled out of a planned interview with Sky News’ flagship Sophy Ridge show.

His former donor Arron Banks said on Sunday that the Brexit Party leader had become ‘boxed in’ and urged him to reconsider.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Banks warned if Mr Johnson fails to win a majority next month ‘we can say goodbye to Brexit altogether’.

He added: ‘It is time for Nigel to be realistic. If he ploughs ahead and refuses to stand down his party’s candidates – the ones who stand no chance of winning – then he will help Jeremy Corbyn form the next government.’  

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage speaks during the Brexit Party general election campaign tour at the International Convention Centre on November 8, 2019 in Newport, Wales

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage speaks during the Brexit Party general election campaign tour at the International Convention Centre on November 8, 2019 in Newport, Wales

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a general election campaign visit to Diageo's Roseisle Distillery near Elgin in Scotland on Thursday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a general election campaign visit to Diageo’s Roseisle Distillery near Elgin in Scotland on Thursday

In recent days Mr Farage has backed away from his insistence that the Prime Minister must drop his deal entirely.

Instead he is now seeking a guarantee that the Brexit transition will not be extended beyond the end of next year, and that changes are made to the ‘political declaration’ accompanying the deal to guarantee a hard Brexit.

Mr Banks confirmed that ‘behind the scenes a compromise has been proposed’ and Mr Johnson on Sunday night ruled out the option of extending the transition in his ‘olive branch’ social media post.

But Mr Farage indicated he was sticking to his guns on Sunday.

Writing in the Sunday Express, he said: ‘If Boris stands by his EU Treaty, then the Brexit Party will stand against the Conservatives and Corbyn’s Labour in every seat around the country.

‘And in that case, we’ll be standing as the only party that believes in a real Brexit.’

The Brexit Party leader has repeatedly offered the PM a Leave Alliance but only if the premier pledges to ditch his deal and campaign for a ‘clean break’ split from Brussels. 

Mr Johnson is fighting the election on a pledge to implement his Brexit deal and has made clear he has no intention of scrapping it. 

Fears of the Brexit Party splitting the Leave vote on polling day came as the Tories maintained their 12 point lead over Labour from last week. 

A Deltapoll survey showed that early Tory setbacks have not hit the party’s support levels. 

Their headline figure is 41 per cent, with Labour on 29 per cent – both up one percentage point from last week – with the Liberal Democrats up two points on 16 per cent. The Brexit Party is on just six per cent. 

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