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The Prime Minister went into last December’s general election pledging to “Get Brexit Done” that would see Britain officially leave the EU on January 31, 2020 as agreed by both sides. He overwhelmingly succeeded with that promise, as his Conservative Party secured an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons – which was used effectively to get the Withdrawal Agreement voted through the UK Parliament. Once the UK left the bloc at the end of January, Britain and the EU entered a transition period that would enable the two sides to thrash out the details of a post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement (FTA) before December 31 – a deadline the Prime Minister has refused to extend.
These talks have been led by the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost, who this week met with EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels in the latest attempt to find a breakthrough in the current impasse.
Last month, Mr Johnson infuriated EU leaders with a plan to press ahead with the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, which seeks to override key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement and consequently, break international law.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister will speak with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to discuss the “next steps” following the conclusion of the final formal round of talks in Brussels.
It is understood the EU chief wants the talks to check Mr Johnson is still serious about a reaching a Brexit deal.
But Mr Johnson has remained relatively disconnected from the discussions, leaving that responsibility to Lord Frost and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove as he desperately tries to manage the coronavirus crisis in the UK.
But Alistair Jones, Associate Professor at Department of Politics, People and Place, De Montfort University, has lashed out at the Prime Minister, suggesting he is taking his relaxed approach to negotiations too far.
He told Express.co.uk: “Boris Johnson has got bored with the talks. He promised to get Brexit done, and won a general election on that pledge.
“The legislation was passed through Parliament. In his eyes, job done.
“The actual detail required in all of this was not his concern. The UK has left the EU and the transition period will end on December 31, 2020.”
Professor Jones also lashed out at Mr Johnson for backtracking on his pledge “to keep the Union as one”.
He warned the Internal Market Bill fails to do this and will “undermine the sovereignty of the UK”.
The political expert added: “Johnson promised to keep the Union as one. His Northern Ireland plan fails to do this.
“To some Brexiteers, this undermines the sovereignty of the UK. For those who are happy with a ‘No Deal’ scenario – hurrah!
“To everyone else, the thought is something akin to shock.
“Yet the reality is that Johnson was always unconcerned about a no deal Brexit.”
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Best For Britain, the campaign group launched in April 2017 to stop Brexit and continue the UK’s membership of the EU also lashed out at Mr Johnson and his negotiating team for so far not being able to strike the comprehensive trade deal with the EU that was branded “oven ready”.
The group’s CEO Naomi Smith told this website the Prime Minister needs to “step up to the mark, in difficult circumstances, and do his job”.
She said: “Plenty of people will be wondering what happened to the comprehensive trade deal that Johnson promised last year.
“Best for Britain’s polling and focus groups show that those who voted Conservative at the last election, and voted to leave in 2016, expect the Prime Minister to keep his promise on delivering a comprehensive deal.
“And because COVID-19 was unexpected, they’re happy to give him more time to negotiate it – the British people are pragmatic not dogmatic.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that, without a comprehensive trade deal, Britain will suffer – there are warnings of customs chaos, the prices of imports are going to rise and even basic foodstuffs are going to get more expensive.
“Coupled with the impact of coronavirus and a depressed global economy, the threat to Britain is substantial, and all sides will want the UK to make every effort to boost our recovery.
“Squabbles and blame games help no one – Britain and the EU need to sort their relationship urgently and the overwhelming feeling is that the Prime Minister needs to step up to the mark, in difficult circumstances, and do his job.”
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