Boris Johnson had to admit he didn’t know his own plans on Brexit during an interview on his strategy for leaving the EU without a deal.
The Tory leadership frontrunner came unstuck, when questioned about further details on how the UK would trade with the EU after Brexit, in a bruising interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.
Mr Johnson believes Britain can use a rule known as ‘GATT 24’ to maintain trade with the EU, if we leave the bloc without a deal on October 31.
He told Mr Neil he’d secure a ‘standstill’ trade arrangement using Paragraph 5(B) of Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Mr Johnson said: ‘It might be possible, as we come out, to agree under GATT 24 paragraph 5B that both sides agree to a standstill, a protraction of their existing zero tariff, zero quota arrangements, until such a time as we do a free trade deal.
However, paragraph 5(C) – which comes straight afterwards – makes it clear the policy can’t be used for a No Deal Brexit.
It states that a ‘plan and schedule’ must already be in place to form a customs union or free trade area, ‘within a reasonable length of time.’
But Mr Johnson has continued to insist that he could pursue the plan, despite experts and the Governor of the Bank of England saying it is impossible.
He also mocked Mr Neil during the interview who mis-stated the GATT 24 rule by saying: ‘Article 5B in GATT 24’, to which Mr Johnson replied: ‘Paragraph 5B. Article 24. Get the detail right. Get the detail right Andrew!’
However, his teasing backfired as Mr Neil immediately replied: ‘And how would you handle Paragraph 5C?’
Mr Johnson replied: ‘I would confide entirely in paragraph 5B which is enough for our purposes.’
Asked directly if he even knows what’s in 5C, Boris Johnson – who is set to become Prime Minister in 12 days – replied: ‘No.’
Mr Neil replied: ‘I thought you were a man of detail!’
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