Boris Johnson launches alternative vision for Brexit in attack on Theresa May - but Sir Richard Branson doesn't agree

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<em>Attack – Boris Johnson has launched an attack on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy just days before the Tory Party conference (Picture: Reuters)</em>
Attack – Boris Johnson has launched an attack on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy just days before the Tory Party conference (Picture: Reuters)

Boris Johnson’s alternative vision for Britain’s departure from the EU have been dismissed by business magnate Sir Richard Branson, who warned Brexit would be a “disaster” for the UK and Europe.

Former Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson launched a scathing attack on Theresa May just days before the Conservative Party Conference, branding her Chequers plan a “moral and intellectual humiliation for this country” that will “cheat the electorate”.

In a 4,500-word column in the Telegraph titled ‘A better plan for Brexit’, Mr Johnson – who quit Mrs May’s Cabinet in July – set out his own alternative vision for Britain’s departure from the EU.

He urged the Government to ditch the Chequers plan and negotiate a Canada-style free deal which he said would “fulfil the instruction of the people”.

But Mr Johnson’s plans have been dismissed by Virgin founder Richard Branson.

<em>‘Disaster’ Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has dismissed Boris Johnson’s alternative vision for Brexit (Picture: AP)</em>
‘Disaster’ Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has dismissed Boris Johnson’s alternative vision for Brexit (Picture: AP)

The billionaire entrepreneur told Sky News: “I listened to Boris Johnson and I also listened to the words he said about entrepreneurs and business people.

“I do personally think that entrepreneurs and business people know what this country needs more than Boris Johnson knows.”

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Mr Branson voiced his support for a second referendum, saying he thinks it is “quite likely that sense will finally prevail”, adding: “I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer just what a disaster it is and I just hope that ultimately it doesn’t go through.

“I hope ultimately sense prevails and there’s a big re-think and the British people have a chance to vote on whatever is negotiated in the end.”

In his piece in the Telegraph Mr Johnson described the Chequers proposals, which were publicly rejected by EU leaders in Salzburg last week, as the “worst of both worlds”.

He wrote: “Overall, the Chequers proposals represent the intellectual error of believing that we can be half-in, half-out: that it is somehow safer and easier for large parts of our national life to remain governed by the EU even though we are no longer in the EU.

“They are in that sense a democratic disaster. There is nothing safe or ‘pragmatic’ in being bound by rules over which we have no say, interpreted by a federalist court.

“The Chequers proposals are the worst of both worlds. They are a moral and intellectual humiliation for this country. It is almost incredible that after two years this should be the opening bid of the British government.”

<em>Conference – Mr Johnson’s attack comes just days before the Conservative Party conference (Picture: Reuters)</em>
Conference – Mr Johnson’s attack comes just days before the Conservative Party conference (Picture: Reuters)

Mr Johnson argued for a new withdrawal agreement stating that the Irish border question will be settled as part of the deal on the future economic arrangements as well as saying that the implementation period should be used to negotiate and bring into force a “SuperCanada” type free trade agreement.

He added: “This is an opportunity for the UK to become more dynamic and more successful, and we should not be shy of saying that – and we should recognise that it is exactly this potential our EU partners seek to constrain.”

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