Don’t poke the bear! Johnson LASHES OUT with ferocious Brexit attack – ‘No white flag!’

In his first broadcast interview of the Tory leadership race, the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May said “fortitude and determination” were needed in the negotiations with the EU. And he vowed to “honour the will of the people” by getting the UK out of the EU this autumn with or without a deal. Mr Johnson’s spoke out in an interview on BBC Radio 4 as he confronted criticism that he had been dodging media scrutiny throughout the leadership campaign. He also announced that he will take part in a head-to-head live television debate with other candidates following the second knock-out round of voting among Tory MPs on Tuesday. Setting out his Brexit plans, the former foreign secretary dismissed the idea of ruling out a no-deal departure as a surrender to Brussels. “Unless we get ready, unless we show fortitude and determination, I don’t think we will carry conviction in Brussels about the deal we want to do,” he said.

“We have to get out by October 31 and I think it would be absolutely bizarre to signal at this stage that the UK government was willing once again to run up the white flag and delay yet again.

“My commitment is to honour the will of the people and take this country out on October 31 and to get this thing done.

“That is what people want. And the way to do it is to disaggregate the current Withdrawal Agreement and move on.

“Once we move on, we will be able to do many things, once we get Brexit off the front pages, that will be a massive opportunity for the Conservative Party once again to occupy the centre ground of politics and speak for huge numbers of people in the country who feel they were left behind.”

He said the EU had to recognise that opinion in the UK had hardened.

“I think now what they will see is that politics has changed in the UK and in Europe. They have 29 Brexit MEPs in Strasbourg. The parties in this country are facing an existential threat from parties that are feasting on their vote; the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats are leading the polls as a result of the failure of the two main parties to deliver on the will of the people.

“That is what needs to happen, it needs to happen by October 31 and we need to get on and do it.

“And all those who say that we should delay, that we should kick the can down the road – I think they risk doing terminal damage to trust in politics,” he said.

Mr Johnson insisted the “Irish backstop” mechanism to avoid border customs checks at the new EU border between Ireland and the Irish Republic could be ditched.

“The obvious way to do it is to make sure you have checks on anybody who breaks the law as you would expect, but you do it away from the border. That is common ground.

“Anybody who breaks the law is clearly going to be subject to checks and investigation.

“There already is smuggling across that border and smugglers are intercepted in the normal way. That is the important thing. There are ways of doing this that do not require a hard border,” he said.

Mr Johnson said measures to police the border “should not be ordained by the backstop”.

“They should be remitted to the implementation period after we have left in the context of our negotiation of the free-trade deal.

“That is the obvious solution, it is something that is agreed on all sides of the House.

“I accept that at the moment the EU will say well, we can’t accept that, it’s not possible. They’re bound to say that at present. I think that they will find a way forward.

“It simply not be sensible for the EU and the UK to part in that kind of disorderly way. But if we have to get out on no-deal terms, or WTO terms, then it is our absolute responsibility to prepare. It’s by preparing for it that we will prevent that outcome.”

Mr Johnson confirmed he will take part in a BBC live debate for Tory leadership candidates next Tuesday while declining to attend a Channel 4 clash tomorrow.

Mr Johnson told The World At One: “I think it is important that we have a sensible grown-up debate.

“My own observation is that in the past when you’ve had loads of candidates, it can be slightly cacophonous and I think the public have had quite a lot of blue on blue action frankly over the last three years.

“We don’t necessarily need a lot more of that and so what I think the best solution would be, would be to have a debate on what we all have to offer the country.

“And the best time to do that, I think, would be after the second ballot on Tuesday, and the best forum is the proposed BBC debate.

“I think that’s a good idea.” He told the BBC that he is “more than happy” to take part in the BBC One leadership debate.

Mr Johnson also attempted to end the persistent questioning over whether he had abused cocaine.

He indicated that he had once snorted a substance as a teenager that he was unable to confirm was cocaine.

During the BBC Radio interview, Mr Johnson said there had been “a single inconclusive event that took place when I was a teenager and which I have extensively described”.

Asked if he had used the drug since then, he said: “No.”

Questions about drug abuse have loomed over the campaign since Environment Secretary Michael Gove confessed to having taken cocaine before entering politics.

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