Should Boris Stay or Should He Go?
Manfred Weber, the German MEP and member of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, which is part of the European People’s Party, said today that Boris Johnson should be fired so that the Brexit negotiations progress.
Weber was talking at the European parliament where MEPs gathered to pass a motion regarding the UK’s inability to demonstrate sufficient progress in the negotiations. The European parliament in Strasbourg passed the motion unamended, and accused the UK of having “impeded” the talks on the divorce bill because of its lack of “clear proposals.”
MEPs demanded that a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU should be delayed because of the UK government’s confusing position. They insisted that the three priorities—the financial obligations to the EU, the Irish border and citizens’ rights—needed to be settled first.
557 MEPs backed the motion, 92 voted against it and 29 abstained. The EU council would only move to the second phase of the talks and discussions over the future trade relationship when “major breakthrough” is seen, something which puts more pressure on May to deliver a strong message and David Davis, the UK chief Brexit negotiator, to offer a clearer image of the UK’s position.
Due to the lack of clarity from the Tory party and Theresa May’s split cabinet, Weber told MEPs in the European parliament, that BoJo leaving would be a positive change and would provide more certainty on the UK’s positions. The question of “who speaks for the British government,” is a crucial one, Weber stated, because at the moment there are too many incongruous voices: Theresa May, David Davis and Boris Johnson. Particularly, BoJo’s interventions, he said, let the government “trapped by their own party quarrels and political contradictions.”
He was critical of the UK government’s attitude to satisfy different party lines, while failing to offer real solutions to its citizens. Weber said: “First Florence, and then Manchester. We listen to a lot of speeches but the substance is different. London is very creative at putting red lines on the table for pleasing their party supporters but they fail to have any solution for the voters and citizens.” He advised her not to put her party first but “show leadership” on what is being said.
He said: “I fully agree with Theresa May on at least one single point she said [in her Florence speech last month]. We can do so much better than this. Theresa May, please don’t put your party first … Show leadership on content.”
Weber’s concerns were also voiced by Guy Verhofstadt who said: “I want to express a big worry of mine. And that is the lack of clarity – or I can even say disunity – at the other side of the negotiation table. Hammond, Fox. Johnson, May.”
BoJo has been playing solo for some time now. Over the weekend, he demanded that no new EU regulations should apply to the UK after Brexit and reiterated the point that the UK should not pay or accept any rules in exchange for access to the single market.
Conservatives believe that Johnson is sabotaging May’s position, making it harder for her to navigate through the many issues and making a series of demands that are bound to be declined by the EU. In this sense, he is like the Brexiteers, who, in many ways don’t want any deal, because as the saying goes “no deal is better than a bad deal.” In other words, BoJo wants May to fail.