Johnson urges EU to compromise in bid to reach Brexit deal

Boris Johnson has urged the European Union to compromise in order to reach a Brexit deal as he set out his plan to scrap the backstop.

The Prime Minister wrote to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to say that it would be a "failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible" if the two sides could not strike a deal before the October 17 European Council.

He acknowledged there was "very little time" but said "both sides now need to consider whether there is sufficient willingness to compromise and move beyond existing positions" to reach an agreement.

In his letter, Mr Johnson said the backstop – the contingency plan agreed by the EU and Theresa May to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – must be removed.

Unlike Mrs May's plans for a UK-EU relationship with a closely integrated customs arrangement, Mr Johnson favoured a looser free trade deal and "in these circumstances the proposed 'backstop' is a bridge to nowhere".

Mr Johnson said the plan had five elements:

– A commitment to a solution compatible with the Good Friday Agreement
– Confirmation of support for long-standing areas of UK-Ireland collaboration including the Common Travel Area and north-south co-operation
– The potential creation of an all-Ireland regulatory zone covering all goods including agri-food
– The consent of those affected by that all-Ireland zone with the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly given the chance to endorse the plan before it comes into effect and then every four years
– Northern Ireland will be fully part of the UK customs territory and outside the EU's customs union.

Mr Johnson claimed the plan was "entirely compatible with maintaining an open border in Northern Ireland".

He told Mr Juncker that because the goods trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland made up "a little over 1% of UK-EU total trade in goods" it was "entirely reasonable to manage this border in a different way.

Any risks arising from the proposals would be "manageable", particularly as imports from third countries would be controlled by EU and UK customs authorities.

Under the plan there would be "decentralised" customs regimes, with paperwork conducted electronically as goods move between the two countries.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the stage with his partner Carrie Symonds after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (centre) is given a pat on the back by Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, as he leaves the stage after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on stage giving his speech at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering his speech at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Prime Minister Boris Johnson exits the hall with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds following his keynote speech on day four of the 2019 Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central on October 2, 2019 in Manchester, England. The U.K. government prepares to formally submit its finalised Brexit plan to the EU today. The offer replaces the Northern Irish Backstop with border, customs and regulatory checks lasting until 2025. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) is kissed by his partner Carrie Symonds as they leave after he delivered his keynote speech to delegates on the final day of the annual Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex, in Manchester, north-west England on October 2, 2019. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to unveil his plan for a new Brexit deal at his Conservative party conference Wednesday, warning the EU it is that or Britain leaves with no agreement this month. Downing Street said Johnson would give details of a "fair and reasonable compromise" in his closing address to the gathering in Manchester, and would table the plans in Brussels the same day. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Carrie Symonds and Stanley Johnson, the partner and father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, watch him deliver his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up as he leaves the stage after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Delegates cheer with Union Jack flags to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's arrival to deliver his keynote speech on the final day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Wednesday October 2, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering his keynote speech on the final day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Wednesday October 2, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the stage with his partner Carrie Symonds as he is congratulated by his father Stanley Johnson after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering his speech at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Carrie Symonds and Stanley Johnson, the partner and father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, watch him deliver his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Home Secretary Priti Patel leads the cabinet ministers into the hall ahead of the Prime Minister's keynote speech on the final day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Wednesday October 2, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is kissed by his partner his partner Carrie Symonds, after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering his keynote speech on the final day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Wednesday October 2, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Jacob Rees-Mogg during the final day of the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Wednesday October 2, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment
Carrie Symonds arrives at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Boris Johnson during the final day of the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Wednesday October 2, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment
Police arrive at the Conservative Party Conference after a "small misunderstanding" when an attendee, believed to be Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for The Cotswolds, tried to enter the International Lounge at the Manchester Convention Centre without the relevant pass, triggering a lockdown. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police attend the Conservative Party Conference after a "small misunderstanding" when an attendee, believed to be Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for The Cotswolds, tried to enter the International Lounge at the Manchester Convention Centre without the relevant pass, triggering a lockdown. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Police officers lock down the International Lounge after an unspecified incident on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central at Manchester Central on October 01, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: People are directed away from the International Lounge after an unspecified incident caused it to be locked down on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central at Manchester Central on October 01, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Paramedics are stood down following an unspecified incident caused the lock down of the International Lounge during on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central at Manchester Central on October 01, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Stanley Johnson, is seen on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central on October 1, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex, Manchester on Tuesday 1 October 2019 (Photo by P Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Home Secretary Priti Patel after making her keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Home Secretary Priti Patel delivers her keynote speech on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Tuesday October 1, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson arrives ahead of day two of the 2019 Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central on September 30, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, the Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Former Thomas Cook cabin crew and staff protesting outside the Manchester Convention Centre at the Conservative Party Conference. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, Lord President of the Council and MP for North East Somerset speaks at day one of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester , England , 29 September 2019. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Armed British police officers hold their weapons as they stand on duty outside the annual Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester, north-west England on September 30, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
People listen to speakers at the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove on stage at the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre.
A Boris doll at the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre.
(left to right) International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace during the "Builiding a Safe and Prosperous Britain" session on day one of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre. Picture dated: Sunday September 29, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Stands selling merchandise at the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg delivers a speech during the "Delivering Brexit" session on day one of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove during the "Delivering Brexit" session on day one of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab delivers a speech during the "Delivering Brexit" session on day one of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre
(left to right) Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove on stage at the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to North Manchester General Hospital before the Conservative Conference starts at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Stands selling merchandise at the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove arrives to Manchester Central on day one of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to North Manchester General Hospital before the Conservative Conference starts at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets patient Mark Mountaine during a visit to North Manchester General Hospital before the Conservative Conference starts at the Manchester Convention Centre.
Former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy (left) and former Labour political advisor James Mills playing in the annual party conference football game between Conservative MPs and a team of journalists at the City Football Academy Stadium, Manchester.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks with his partner Carrie Symonds as they arrive at The Midland, near the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019, on the eve of the annual Conservative Party conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives, accompanied by partner Carrie Symonds, ahead of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, as the Tories have insisted it will go ahead despite the Commons voting against the Government's request for a three-day recess to coincide with the event.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds arrive at the Conservative Party Conference on September 28, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Preparations underway ahead of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, as the Tories have insisted it will go ahead despite the Commons voting against the Government's request for a three-day recess to coincide with the event.
Police at preparations ahead of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, as the Tories have insisted it will go ahead despite the Commons voting against the Government's request for a three-day recess to coincide with the event.
Police at preparations ahead of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, as the Tories have insisted it will go ahead despite the Commons voting against the Government's request for a three-day recess to coincide with the event.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care leaves the Midland Hotel for a media appearance on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference on September 29, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: James Cleverly, Chairman of the Conservative Party leaves the Midland Hotel for a media appearance on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference on September 29, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Priti Patel, Secretary of State for the Home Department leaves the Midland Hotel for a media appearance on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference on September 29, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the Midland Hotel for a media appearance on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference on September 29, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) walks with his partner Carrie Symonds as they arrive at The Midland, near the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019, on the eve of the annual Conservative Party conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray (2L) and fellow protesters are seen outside the Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Armed Police are seen outside the Conservative Party Conference on September 28, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray holds placards outside the Conservative Party Conference on September 28, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Police patrol outside the Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers help prepare an auditorium with Conservative Party branding inside Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers help prepare Conservative Party branding inside Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Conservative Party branded banners are seen outside Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A Conservative Party branded tent outside Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Conservative Party branded banners and police are seen outside Manchester Central convention centre, the venue of the annual Conservative Party conference, in Manchester, northwest England on September 28, 2019 on the eve of the start of the conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathers his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, and is set to be dominated by fighting talk on Brexit. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: A man holds a European Union flag as he stands outside the Midland hotel ahead of the Conservative Party Conference on September 28, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, the Conservative Party Conference is still going ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: A general view of the Manchester Central Convention Complex ahead of the Conservative Party Conference on September 28, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess the Conservative Party Conference is still going ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Armed police officers are called to an incident as yet unspecified that caused the lock down of the International Lounge during on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central at Manchester Central on October 01, 2019 in Manchester, England. Despite Parliament voting against a government motion to award a recess, Conservative Party Conference still goes ahead. Parliament will continue with its business for the duration. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
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But Mr Johnson acknowledged there would need to be a "very small number of physical checks", which he claimed could be conducted at traders' premises or other points in the supply chain – rather than at the border.

He called for the two sides to work together to find "flexible and creative solutions", coupled with a joint commitment "never to conduct checks at the border in future".

Irish border plan
(PA Graphics)

Mr Johnson said the continued regulatory alignment across the island of Ireland could continue "for a potentially prolonged period" after the end of a transition period if Stormont agrees.

But the requirement for the consent of the Northern Irish Assembly meant that EU rules "cannot be maintained indefinitely if they are not wanted".

The Prime Minister said: "I hope that these proposals can now provide the basis for rapid negotiations towards a solution, together with finalisation of the necessary changes to the Political Declaration reflecting the goal of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, so that an Article 50 agreement can be reached, and the UK can leave the EU in an orderly fashion on October 31.

"This will allow us to focus on the positive future relationship that I believe is in all of our interests."

Mr Johnson's letter also signalled extra investment for Northern Ireland.

The "New Deal for Northern Ireland" would have "appropriate commitments to help boost economic growth and Northern Ireland's competitiveness, and to support infrastructure projects, particularly with a cross-border focus".

Mr Johnson's Democratic Unionist Party allies backed the proposals.

In a statement the party said the plans were a basis for the EU to continue "in a serious and sustained engagement with the UK Government without risk to the internal market of the United Kingdom" and they "ensure democratic consent to the specific alignment proposals".

"Further work remains to be completed between the UK and the European Union but we would encourage all concerned to approach these discussions in a positive mindset within a spirit of wanting to secure a negotiated withdrawal agreement that can allow everyone to focus on future relationships," the DUP added.

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