What Boris Johnson promised about ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal before general election

Ross McGuinness
Prime minister Boris Johnson promised an 'oven-ready' Brexit deal when launching the Conservative Party's general election campaign last November. (PA)
Prime minister Boris Johnson promised an 'oven-ready' Brexit deal when launching the Conservative Party's general election campaign last November. (PA)

Boris Johnson believes ending talks with the EU without securing a Brexit deal would be a “good outcome”.

It emerged on Monday that the UK government is preparing legislation that would override a key part of its withdrawal agreement with the EU.

The plan would eliminate the requirement for new customs arrangements in Northern Ireland designed to prevent the return of border checks.

Boris Johnson has set a deadline of 15 October for Britain and the EU to agree a post-Brexit trade deal, giving negotiators five weeks before the prospect of walking away from the table.

The prime minister will say later on Monday that both sides should “move on” if an agreement is not reached by that date.

However, his tone is a far cry from his promise made before last December’s general election of having an “oven-ready” Brexit deal ready to go.

On a visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge on October 31, Johnson said: “We’ve got an oven-ready deal.”

A few days later, in an interview with The Sun On Sunday on 3 November, Johnson said: “We’ve got a deal that’s oven-ready.

“We’ve just got to put it in at gas mark four, give it 20 minutes and Bob’s your uncle.

“There’s only one way to get Brexit done and there’s only one way to get it done fast and that’s to vote for us, vote for the Conservatives.”

He went on to repeat the “oven-ready” mantra on numerous occasions throughout his election campaign.

In the Conservative Party manifesto, he wrote: “With a new Parliament and a sensible majority government, we can get that deal through in days.

“It is oven-ready and every single Conservative MP elected at this election, all 365 of them, have pledged to vote for this deal immediately.”

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When launching his campaign on 6 November, Johnson said: “We’ve got a deal, oven-ready, by which we can leave the EU in just a few weeks.”

But he didn’t just restrict himself to one cooking metaphor.

During the same period, he caused some confusion by insisting his Brexit deal was ready to go into another kitchen appliance.

At the launch of Conservative Party’s campaign at the NEC in Birmingham, Johnson said of his deal: “Whack it in the microwave, gas mark… I’m not very good at cooking… gas mark four.

“Prick the lid. Put it in, and then we can get on… we can put this deal through Parliament.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson has issued a deadline to the EU over reaching a Brexit trade deal. (PA)
Prime minister Boris Johnson has issued a deadline to the EU over reaching a Brexit trade deal. (PA)

The prime minister was mocked online for comparing his Brexit deal to a microwave meal, while BBC presenter Andrew Neil teased Johnson that it was not too late to agree to an “oven-ready” interview.

Johnson and his party went on to win a landslide victory over Jeremy Corbyn and Labour in December’s general election.

In January, Johnson marked the signing of the Brexit withdrawal agreement with an image of him flanked by Union Jack flags.

He said: “This signature heralds a new chapter in our nation’s history.”

But eight months down the line and the government appears to be no closer to a trade agreement with the EU.

On Friday, MEP and Brexit critic Guy Verhofstadt mocked Johnson’s “oven-ready” deal, saying instead it is a “recipe for chaos”.