The former UK Foreign Secretary and ardent Brexiteer, Boris Johnson, has said that the European Union (EU) will exploit the issue of the Irish backstop to "blackmail" the UK during future Brexit talks.
In his weekly column in the Telegraph, Mr Johnson has said that Theresa May's Brexit deal would be "detrimental" to the UK's bargaining position and future sovereignty, arguing that Britain is on the verge of becoming an "economic colony of Brussels."
As one of the key members of Vote Leave you have moral duty to ensure that May is not permitted to pervert our Leave votes into trapping us permanently in the EU with no unilateral means of exit.— RoundLike #DINO (@RoundLike) 17 March 2019
She has defrauded us all and you have a moral duty to collapse her corrupt Govt
You need to oust May Boris, somehow! We must have a pro-Brexit leader willing to stand up to the EU dictators & be willing to leave with No Deal. The EU will NEVER negotiate a fair deal, they will always be punitive to protect their federalist project. We must leave with NO DEAL!— Julia 🇬🇧 #StandUp4Brexit (@JulesSunbeam) 18 March 2019
"We will be legally and politically at the mercy of Brussels, since we will be obliged to accept all EU legislation, during the so-called implementation period," Mr Johnson wrote.
"Worst of all, the Irish backstop arrangement gives the EU an indefinite means of blackmail. They will be able to keep us locked in the customs union and large parts of the single market unless we are prepared to abandon Northern Ireland. They will use this blackmail to get their way throughout the negotiations, notably over the free movement of people," he added.
Mr Johnson also asserted that the UK is in need of a huge tactical change in its approach toward negotiating with Brussels, saying that: "if we agree this deal and unless we have a radical change in our approach to the negotiations we face an even greater humiliation in the second phase. We have not found a convincing unilateral way out of the backstop. Unless we discover some willingness to resist, the diet of capitulation seems set to continue for at least two years."
On the evening of Tuesday 12 March, Theresa May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly struck down a second time in a parliamentary vote — 242 in favour to 391 against. Then, on Wednesday March 13, MPs voted by 321 to 278 in favour of a motion that ruled out leaving the EU with no deal on March 29.
Subsequently, on Thursday 14 March, MPs voted again, this time to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit until at least the end of June. However, EU leaders then warned that for there to be an extension, Miss May's government would have to put forward a clear path forward for what happens next.
Miss May was reportedly planning to hold yet another vote on her Brexit deal on March 20 after a number of eurosceptic Conservative party MPs who previously opposed May's deal said they may now back it. Yet, May is said to be considering sidelining that possibility unless there is a "realistic prospect" of success.