Thursday 3 October 2019 9:04 am

Commons to grill Boris Johnson over 'final offer' on Brexit

The Prime Minister will face a grilling in the Commons today, after the government published its “final offer” to Brussels yesterday.

Boris Johnson, who also confirmed plans to prorogue parliament for a second time in order to bring forward a Queen’s Speech, enjoyed rapturous applause in front of the party faithful after his conference speech yesterday lunchtime.

Read more: Boris Johnson reveals last offer on Brexit to EU

But today is likely to prove harder work, with opposition MPs lining up to attack his proposals for how to solve the Irish border issue, which includes the creation of an all-island regulatory zone and alternative arrangements including electronic and “decentralised” checks.  

He chaired an emergency Cabinet meeting this morning to brief his top team.

The Eurosceptic group ERG – who proved problematic for Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May – and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) so far appear on board, as do some Labour Leavers including Melanie Onn.

But there is plenty of criticism being levelled at the suggestions, in particular that it would rely on a rolling four-year approval from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Critics of the so-called Stormont Lock such as Sinn Fein point to the fact that it would effectively give the DUP a veto, and pointed to the fact that the Assembly has not sat for more than two years.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last night slammed the offer as “worse than Theresa May’s deal”.

Trade group Manufacturing NI tweeted: “Frankly the proposal are worse than No Deal for Northern Ireland businesses.”

Johnson may not deliver the statement to MPs today himself – it is thought Brexit secretary Steve Barclay has that honour.

Read more: EU27 to ‘stick together’ after UK reveals Brexit blueprint

Either way it is likely the government will be taken to task over the details of the proposal, as well as its second attempt at prorogation, which will run from 8 to 14 October, meaning Johnson escapes at least one more round of PMQs.

Last night the Prime Minister began to press the case for his proposals with key players in the EU, speaking to German chancellor Angela Merkel, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

That charm offensive will continue today. However, while Brussels has initially shown willingness to engage, there remains widespread scepticism that the EU will agree to a deal on the basis of what was put forward yesterday.

Whatever the decision, Merkel has already made it clear the EU will present a united front.

Main image: Getty

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