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James O’Brien’s fiery clash with Mr Cleverly was described as a “car crash” by one listener after they debated Boris Johnson’s credentials as Prime Minister, and whether he would succeed with his Brexit plans. Mr Johnson had just won the Conservative Party leadership election, and was preparing to reshape the UK’s Brexit strategy after Theresa May’s failure to breach Parliament. Mr Cleverly was a big backer of Mr Johnson, and said he was optimistic his party’s new leader could convince the EU to renegotiate. The Tory MP said: “The point is James, they [the EU] said there would be no separation of the four freedoms, they have broken that promise.”
Mr O’Brien hit back, saying the EU only claimed this would be the case after the transition period.
Mr Cleverly continued: “They said absolutely that something could never happen, and then they put forward an agreement which did that very thing.
“So the broader point I’m making is the fact that at some point in the negotiations one side said that something wouldn’t happen, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t at some point…move.
“And this is what negotiations are all about, and what most of us are hoping for is the EU recognise the reality that the current structure didn’t het through the House of Commons despite numerous attempts, and that they are able to move in a meaningful way that gives us a chance of getting it through the House.
“As a passionate, longstanding Brexiter, I would much rather leave with an agreement, and I also think the EU that its much better for the UK to leave with an agreement as well.”
While Mr O’Brien remained unconvinced that the EU would shift its stance, he also questioned Mr Cleverly on whether there was even a mandate to leave with no deal.
Mr Cleverly replied: “It’s an absolutely clear mandate, the mandate was unambiguous, that was to leave the EU.”
Mr O’Brien swiftly cut in: “And yet the literature said we would be leaving with a deal.
“…[people] were promised that we would be leaving with a deal.”
The Tory MP denied this, saying: “The ballot paper said Leave or Remain, the people ticked Leave.”
In the end, Mr Johnson was able to secure a different arrangement than the one put to the House of Commons three times by Mrs May.
When Boris Johnson took over as Mr Minister, he was able to secure changes such as alterations to the backstop issue.
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Under the deal, the UK and the EU are “underlining their firm commitment to no customs and regulatory checks or controls and related physical infrastructure at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland”.
They also share the aim of “avoiding controls at the ports and airports of Northern Ireland”.
Although, this deal wasn’t welcomed by the DUP, with Arlene Foster branding it a “betrayal”.
The UK left the EU with a revised deal on January 31, 2020.
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