Boris Johnson vows to ‘step up tempo’ and intensify Brexit talks ahead of Parliament shutdown

Boris Johnson has said both the EU and the UK must “step up the tempo” with intensified talks as he prepares to prorogue Parliament.

The Prime Minister said his team of negotiators will be sitting down with their EU counterparts at least twice a week during September.

Mr Johnson decided to suspend Parliament for much of next month until October 14, just over two weeks before the Brexit deadline.

Opposition parties have claimed the shutdown was a move to prevent MPs from blocking a no-deal exit from the bloc.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators hold placards as they protest against the Parliament shutdown outside Downing Street (AFP/Getty Images)

But the PM said that from his first day in office he has been determined to get a deal done.

He added in a statement on Thursday: “While I have been encouraged with my discussions with EU leaders over recent weeks that there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop, it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo.

“The increase in meetings and discussions is necessary if we are to have a chance of agreeing a deal for when we leave on October 31, no ifs no buts.”

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Two meetings between the UK and EU negotiators are scheduled to take place next week.

Mr Johnson said his negotiating team will meet twice a week with their EU counterparts, “with the possibility of additional technical meetings, to discuss a way forward on securing a new deal”.

His chief Brexit sherpa David Frost met this week with the EU’s Article 50 Taskforce and agreed talks would be intensified

Boris Johnson been accused of shutting down Parliament to stop MPs from blocking a no-deal Brexit (AFP/Getty Images)

Two meetings between the UK and EU negotiators are scheduled to take place next week.

Mr Frost will be joined in Brussels by relevant officials including experts on customs, regulatory issues and trade policy.

Number 10 said the two sides remain “some distance apart on key issues but that both sides are willing to work hard to find a way through”.

Pro-EU supporters protest outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday (Getty Images)

Downing Street also confirmed talks between the UK and EU will continue throughout the period that Parliament is prorogued.

Opposition parties have issued a joint statement to “demand” that Boris Johnson backtrack on his plan to prorogue Parliament.

The statement has been released by Labour, the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, The Independent Group for Change and the Green Party.

They state that the plan should be stopped or alternatively put to a vote by MPs in the Commons.

The statement reads: “It is our view that there is a majority in the House of Commons that does not support this prorogation, and we demand that the Prime Minister reverses this decision immediately or allows MPs to vote on whether there should be one.”

The parties said they feel the suspension has been put in place “with the sole aim of stopping MPs from avoiding a no-deal Brexit”.

But the PM said the move was made to allow him to lay out a new “legislative agenda”.


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