LondonThe favorite in the run for conservative party leader and British prime minister Boris Johnson has revealed major gaps in his Brexit plan in a BBC interview on Friday night. Johnson wants to lead the UK out of the EU on October 31, "come, whatever you want". Should the EU by then not respond to Johnson's demands for changes to the Brexit Agreement, he wants to retire, if necessary, without a deal from the international community.
Johnson claims that negative consequences of a no-deal-Brexit for the economy could then be overcome by means of a provision of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – an international treaty that laid the foundations for the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Then just the same trading rules could apply as before, until a new free trade agreement is concluded, Johnson said. Customs duties are superfluous. However, weeks ago, he could not even name the exact provision of the agreement.
In an interview with BBC presenter Andrew Neil, Johnson now attached great importance to Article 24, clause 5 (b) of the GATT Agreement. On the question of Neil, whether he also knew what was in paragraph 5 c, Johnson had to deny, however.
In it, Neil taught him that "you not only need EU approval, you also need to agree on the outline of a future trade agreement and the timeline to achieve that." Why, if Johnson did not even want to commit to the terms of the withdrawal that were already agreed, should Brussels agree, Neil asked. Johnson had no convincing answer.
The former Foreign Minister also left a bad impression on the subject of the British Ambassador in Washington, who stepped down because of his criticism of Trump. Johnson had to admit that his comments in a TV debate contributed to top diplomat Kim Darroch resigning.
He insisted, however, that he had been misquoted. Johnson had refused in a televised duel with his rival Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday to give a guarantee that he would not prematurely change the ambassador who fell out of favor with US President Donald Trump should he become prime minister. With criticism of Trump for its failed Tweets Johnson held back conspicuously. One day later, the ambassador resigned.
US President Donald Trump had previously described the ambassador by Twitter as a "stupid guy" and "pompous idiots" and terminated the cooperation with him. The cause for the ranting Trumps were confidential ambassadors who had leaked to the press. In it, Darroch had called the Trump government as "incompetent". Scotland Yard has now launched a criminal investigation to find out who sent the despatches to the press.
Despite his frequent missteps, it is almost certain that by July 23, Johnson will be named by postal vote by the approximately 160,000 Tory members as party leader and thus prime minister. Whether the weak performance of the former Mayor of London in the TV interview with Neil changes anything about it depends largely on how many party members have already completed their postal ballot papers and given them to the post office.
A poll by Conservative Home suggests that more than two-thirds have already done so. That would be the chance for Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, who plays against Johnson, passé. However, according to media reports in recent days, Tory members may have taken more time to make their decision. According to that, only less than half of the documents have been received so far.
Johnson and Hunt will be touring the country until next Wednesday to present their political ideas to the party base in regional conferences. An indication that the mood could tip, there was on Friday evening in southwest England Cheltenham. As Johnson, as so often, was trying to plod around a difficult question, a man from the audience shouted to him, "Answer the damn question!" – and got a big round of applause.
More: The Brexit has become a highly complicated matter – and has cost Theresa May her office. A chronology of events.
Boris Johnson (t) Brexit (t) Donald Trump (t) Kim Darroch (t) EU exit (t) Customs Union (t) Government (t) WTO (t) Scotland Yard (t) Boris Johnson (t ) Donald Trump (t) Jeremy Hunt (t) Christoph Meyer (t) Kim Darroch