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Sunday 25 August 2019

'Irish border problem can be easily solved', claims Johnson

Boris Johnson. Photo: PA
Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

Boris Johnson has claimed it is "perfectly realistic" to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement to allow Britain to leave the EU in October.

In his first broadcast interview of the Tory leadership race, the front-runner agreed to take part in a BBC debate, but suggested he would miss one hosted by Channel 4, amid accusations that he was hiding from the media.

He also denied using cocaine since a "single inconclusive event" more than 30 years ago.

Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4 he was committed to leaving the EU by October 31, and said the Irish backstop problems could be solved by having checks away from the border.

On the TV debates, he said: "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 over the last three years."

Braver

It came after he was criticised for a lack of media appearances, with his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, accusing him of hiding.

Mr Hunt told the BBC: "We can only have that debate if our front-runner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media and actually engaging in debates."

Mr Johnson said the "fundamental flaw" in the current Withdrawal Agreement is the Irish backstop, and claimed a solution could be found.

"In the meantime, it's crucial to prepare for no-deal. I don't share the deep pessimism of some people about the consequences of no-deal," he said.

Asked how he would solve the border problem, he said: "Those problems are easily capable of solution, as I think the European Commission has said in the past, with maximum facilitation techniques and, after all, at the moment you already have goods conforming to different standards."

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