Boris Johnson continues to advocate for the UK to leave the EU, but says he will not support the deal currently on offer.
He says that the UK still wants to do business with Ireland post-Brexit.
“It is right to come out, but we want to trade with Ireland. We love Ireland. We buy 78,000t of your cheese every year,” he told RTÉ News.
Johnson was in Dublin this week for the Pendulum summit.
“People in the UK deeply understand the sensitivities around your border. We will not see a hard border, that would not be right. There are other solutions,” he said.
He does not agree with the backstop which is currently described in the deal, but he commends Irish policy makers for trying to find a solution.
The UK, to be totally frank, was not remotely clear about what we wanted
“I think actually what was interesting about the Irish position over the years, and I pay tribute to the Irish Government, people in Dublin saw these issues a long way out a lot more clearly than people in London did.
"They got to work very fast on finding technical solutions and simulations on the border issue in the run-up to the referendum and the six months following.
"What then happened was that the UK, to be totally frank, was not remotely clear about what we wanted.
"In that vacuum, everything went in to reverse and we started talking about staying in the customs union. That, in my view, is where it all went wrong.”
Barriers to trade
Johnson believes that a no-deal Brexit will not happen, as neither the EU or the UK wants barriers to trade.
He added that the EU and UK, in the absence of a deal by March 29 will be able to extend the existing arrangements for as long as necessary to negotiate a free trade agreement.
“I don’t think that the EU, when it comes to it, will want to punish their exporters or business in the UK by having tariffs or quotas or anything else,” he said, despite RTÉ’s Caitriona Perry reminding him that is not currently on offer at the moment.
He said he would support Theresa May in her leadership, but not the current withdrawal agreement that is on the table.
The former British foreign secretary said that Brussels negotiations always reach a deal in the “final furlong”.
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