The UK will offer the EU a proposed Brexit deal on Wednesday that represents a compromise for both sides, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech to Conservative Party members at their annual conference that had been billed by his office as a take-it-or-leave-it "final offer" to the EU. Yet as delivered, it was more like a plea to the bloc, and to Britons, to end more than three years of acrimonious wrangling over the terms of the UK's exit from the EU. With Britain's delayed departure from the bloc due to take place on Oct. 31, Johnson said the government would send "constructive and reasonable proposals" to the EU later Wednesday. He said the plan was "a compromise by the UK. And I hope very much that our friends understand that and compromise in their turn." The AP gives context:
- The plans are likely to face deep skepticism from EU leaders, who doubt the UK has a workable proposal to avoid checks on goods or people crossing the border between EU member Ireland and the UK's Northern Ireland after Brexit—the key sticking point to a deal. Johnson insisted that "we will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland."
- A Brexit agreement between the EU and Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, was rejected three times by the UK Parliament, largely because of opposition to the "backstop," an insurance policy designed to ensure there's no return to customs posts or other infrastructure on the Irish border.
- An open border underpins both the local economy and Northern Ireland's peace process. But Johnson and other British Brexit supporters oppose the backstop because it would keep the UK tightly bound to EU trade rules in order to avoid customs checks—limiting the country's ability to strike new trade deals around the world.
- Johnson said the government's proposal involved maintaining "the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and businesses on both sides of the border." That could keep Northern Ireland in a regulatory zone with the EU for food, agricultural, and industrial products, removing the need for checks, but the EU will carefully study the details. Britain has previously suggested such an arrangement could have a time limit—something the EU has rejected.
- The EU said it would give the British proposal serious legal vetting before saying whether it's worthy of being a basis for future talks on the UK's departure. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is to speak with Johnson in the afternoon, and technical talks among both sides are planned.
- The Guardian notes Johnson's speech was studded with a "clutch of unusual analogies," including one about kangaroo testicles. While complaining about Brits having stronger voting power over celebrity reality shows than Parliament, he noted that "if Parliament were a reality TV show, the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now. ... [But] at least we could have watched the Speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle."
(Read more Brexit