Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson has claimed he can drop the Irish border backstop and get an 'orderly, managed Brexit'.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:
First, just a couple of quick updates, if you haven't already heard.
Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who left Corbyn's mob to help form the disaster party that is Change UK, has now joined the Liberal Democrats, saying there is not room for two parties on what he calls the centre ground of UK politics.
Lib Dems? Centre ground? He's having a lefty laugh!
Next. The Tory leadership race is now down to six after Matt Hancock, who came sixth in the first round with 20 votes, pulled out earlier today. He hasn't yet said though, who he will be backing in the contest.
The remaining six are: Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart.
Now to the favourite to win, Boris Johnson.
Up until now there had been speculation that Boris was being wrapped in cotton wool and avoiding the press and hustings as this was his contest to lose, not win, and his team it is said didn't want Boris tripping himself up.
But he's come out today and held an interview with the BBC and has agreed to take part in a BBC debate on the TV next Tuesday. Although there is doubt about whether he will take part in a Channel 4 debate on Sunday.
In the BBC interview today, Boris Johnson said the he would deliver an orderly, managed Brexit on time and without the hated Irish border backstop, which he said would be replaced by alternative arrangements.
He also said that he did not believe that some of the promises of doom and disaster about a WTO exit from the EU were true.
So he would continue to push the no deal planning to be ready just in case.
Boris also invoked name of The Brexit Party saying that he could force the EU to agree to a new deal because of the 'existential threat' that Nigel Farage and The Brexit Party posed to the EU.
One assumes that Boris thinks that Brussels will look at getting rid of the backstop as a fair price to pay to get Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party MEPs quickly removed from the EU parliament.
But the French President Emmanuel Macron, might have other ideas.
With the chance of a hard Brexiteer becoming the next UK Prime Minister, he is urging other EU27 leaders to adopt a tough stance and tell the UK it's either the Withdrawal Agreement or the highway to no deal.
And EU diplomats say that other EU27 member states are beginning to agree with Macron. With one telling The Sun newspaper that:
"Macron’s priority is to get the UK out as soon as possible and get No Deal done with.
"France is pushing for strong language telling the Brits this is the final deal and we’re not going to re-evaluate the deal, so accept it or don’t."
Now, If the UK ramps up its no deal preps and also pushes for big changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, Macron could be worried that other EU27 states might be minded to give concessions and, if that occurred, it would be done by a qualified majority vote – i.e. France would not have a veto like it would if the UK asked for an Article 50 extension.
So France can veto an Article 50 extension all on its lonesome, but as I understand it France would need the help of a certain proportion of the other EU27 member states to ensure that the Withdrawal Agreement remains tight shut.
Or maybe Macron doesn't want to be the lone voice when turning down any request from the UK for another Article 50 extension.
But when talking about the 31st of October Brexit deadline, Boris Johnson did say it was time to get this thing done and that:
"It would be absolutely bizarre to signal, at this stage, that the UK government was willing once again to run up the white flag and delay again."
Let's just hope he means it!