EU rebukes Boris Johnson's Brexit plan moments after his appointment as Tory leader

Pedro Gonçalves
EU rebukes Boris Johnson's Brexit plan moments after his appointment as Tory leader

As Boris Johnson was declaring himself "The Dude" after being appointed as Tory leader, his Brexit plans were being shot down in Brussels as the bloc signals that it has no plans to make concessions.

The newly appointed Tory leader and future prime minister has called for fundamental changes in the Brexit agreement and has promised to take the UK out of the EU with or without a deal on the last day of October.Promises that may be hard to keep as Europe will stick to its withdrawal agreement with London, a deputy head of the European Commission said.

In an intervention timed to coincide with Johnson's election announcement, Frans Timmermans, the European Commission's first vice president, told reporters in Brussels that the EU would not renegotiate.

We will hear what the new prime minister has to say when he comes to Brussels"

"We will hear what the new prime minister has to say when he comes to Brussels," he said. Timmermans added that a no-deal Brexit would be "a tragedy for all sides, not just for the United Kingdom".

"We are all going to suffer if that happens," he told reporters in Brussels.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier also stressed that the Withdrawal Agreement was the basis for an orderly withdrawal.

On Twitter, he said "we look forward to working constructively" with the new prime minister "to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly Brexit".

He added that the EU was prepared to "rework" the Political Declaration setting out the aims for the future relationship, something that Brussels has already indicated it would do.

Barnier will meet MEPs on the European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group on Wednesday to discuss Johnson's approach.

Another EU commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, also warned that politicians like Mr Johnson were undermining democracy with "cheap promises, simplified visions, blatantly evident incorrect statements".

Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, said that a no-deal is now closer to reality. "Boris Johnson will be an impotent prime minister.  Theresa May faced tricky arithmetic in parliament, but her successor will have it even harder. 

"After a series of defections from serving MPs and the potential loss of two seats in by-elections, the Conservatives' parliamentary tiny majority is on the brink of collapse.

"This arithmetic, together with the fact that the EU has shot down Johnson's Brexit plan within moments of his appointment as leader - signalling it has no plans to make concessions - makes the job of leaving the European Union with a deal almost impossible. No deal is looking increasingly likely," Green said.

"Yet this impotency is likely to be Boris Johnson's secret weapon. 

"This is because all he has to do is do nothing to ensure a no-deal happens by default on 31 Oct. Then in early November, he will call an election being able to claim to have delivered Brexit. This will secure him votes from right-wing Conservatives and Brexit Party supporters, he will be capitalising on a Labour Party with low poll ratings for its leader, and making Liberal Democrat opposition to Brexit and their call for a second referendum irrelevant as the UK would have already left the EU."