July 16, 2019 / 8:49 AM / a month ago

Johnson more radical on Irish Brexit backstop, MP says

FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, attends a hustings event in Colchester, Britain July 13, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace Theresa May as Britain’s prime minister next week, has become more radical on the issue of the Irish backstop making the Brexit picture starker, Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve said on Tuesday.

Both Johnson and his rival, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, told a debate on Monday they were not willing to accept the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Asked about the debate, Grieve said of Johnson that “when challenged and confronted he radicalised even further and excluded any possibility of trying to negotiate some way out of the backstop ... the consequences of that makes the choices starker and starker”.

Grieve said the deadline of Oct. 31 for Britain to leave the European Union should be extended to allow for a second referendum, adding that events in the last few weeks suggested that a Brexit compromise was increasingly not possible.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Costas Pitas

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