Johnson defends Brexit deal after Trump criticism, declines Farage's alliance offer

Published 01.11.2019 21:49
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Metropolitan Police training college in Hendon, London, Britain October 31, 2019. Aaron Chown/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Metropolitan Police training college in Hendon, London, Britain October 31, 2019. Aaron Chown/Pool via REUTERS

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out possible electoral cooperation with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party and defended his Brexit deal in response to U.S. President Donal Trump's remarks, in which Trump said the deal could hamper trade deals between the two countries.

Nigel Farage, the minor-party leader who played a major role in Britain's decision to leave the European Union, is trying to throw his weight around again in the U.K.'s Brexit-dominated election.

Farage on Friday piled the pressure on PM Johnson, saying his Brexit Party will run against Johnson's Conservatives across the country in the Dec. 12 early election unless Johnson abandons his divorce deal with the EU.

Farage spoke a day after U.S. President Donald Trump barged into the British election campaign, urging his friend Farage to make an electoral pact with Johnson's Conservatives. Trump told Farage on the Euroskeptic politician's own radio phone-in show Thursday that he and Johnson would be "an unstoppable force."

Johnson on Friday gently rebuffed Trump's suggestion and ruled out an electoral pact with Farage.

"If I may respectfully say to all our friends around the world ... the only way to get this thing done is to vote for us," Johnson told ITV News. "If you vote for any other party, the risk is you'll just get Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, dither and delay."

All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs in the election that is coming more than two years early, with winners to be chosen by Britain's 46 million voters. If the Brexit Party runs in only a small number of seats, that would help the Conservatives, who are vying with Farage for the support of Brexit-backing voters.

Farage's party, which was founded earlier this year, rejects Johnson's Brexit deal, preferring to leave the bloc with no agreement on future relations in what it calls a "clean-break" Brexit. It holds seats in the European Union's legislature but has none so far in Britain's Parliament.

Launching the Brexit Party's election campaign on Friday, Farage said Johnson's deal "is not Brexit" because it would mean continuing to follow some EU rules and holding years of negotiations on future relations.

"Boris tells us this is a great new deal. It is not. It is a bad old treaty. And simply, it is not Brexit," Farage said.

Farage, who played a key role in the 2016 campaign for Britain to leave the EU, said if Johnson agreed to abandon his deal, the Brexit Party would form a "non-aggression pact" with the Conservatives, standing aside from running against them in many areas.

"I believe the only way to solve this is to build a 'leave' alliance across this country," Farage said. "If it was done, Boris Johnson would win a very big majority."

Farage warned that if Johnson rejects the offer, "we will contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales."

He said Johnson needs to make up his mind before the nominations for candidates close on Nov. 14.

In a separate interview with BBC television on the same day, Johnson said his Brexit deal would give Britain "full control" after it leaves the European Union, responding to Trump's remarks in which he said the deal might hinder a future trade agreement between the United States and Britain.

"On the technicalities of the deal, anybody who looks at it can see that the UK has full control," Johnson told BBC television on Friday when asked about Trump's comments.

The United States has previously warned Britain that keeping close ties with the EU after Brexit might prevent it from striking a future bilateral trade agreement with Washington.

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