06:53 GMT13 August 2020
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    Boris Johnson, the current front-runner in the Conservative Party leadership race - reportedly expected to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May - has repeatedly said that if he becomes prime minister, the United Kingdom would leave the bloc on 31 October with or without a deal with the European Union.

    The Guardian newspaper reported, citing a senior EU diplomat, that the European Union is preparing to offer Boris Johnson a no-deal Brexit extension beyond the slated October deadline.

    "It will be described as a technical delay to save Boris from political embarrassment but then we will have time to find an agreement", a senior EU diplomat told The Guardian.

    According to The Guardian, Johnson is expected to maintain the posture of being on course to leave the EU without an agreement, while keeping open the option of coming to a deal with Brussels.

    UK-based media said that Brussels is mulling options if Johnson presses ahead with withdrawing from the bloc without the so-called transition deal.

    In May, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that she would step down as Conservative leader on 7 June, after failing to achieve consensus in parliament and within her own party over the country's withdrawal from the European Union. The new Conservative leader, who will automatically become prime minister, will be announced on 23 July.

    The choice is currently between Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his predecessor, Johnson.

    Meanwhile, the Irish border issue has been a stumbling block in the EU-UK Brexit talks. In November, Brussels and London agreed on the Brexit deal, including the so-called backstop that would be put into practice if the sides failed to agree on all the terms of their relationship by the end of the Brexit transition period. The backstop would keep Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union if London and Brussels failed to reach the deal.

    Johnson and Hunt have reportedly declared that the Northern Ireland backstop was "dead" and promised to exclude it from any withdrawal deal they would negotiate with the European Union.

    The United Kingdom failed to leave the European Union on 29 March, as originally intended, because the withdrawal deal was voted down by UK lawmakers. The European Council gave the United Kingdom an extension until 31 October, with an option to leave earlier if the UK parliament passes the deal.


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    Boris Johnson, European Union, extension, deadline, United Kingdom, Brexit
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