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Boris Johnson looks set to “sell out” his hardline Brexiteer backbenchers in the party with a last-minute concession to the EU. The Prime Minister has decided he can risk angering Brexiteers in order to get a deal with Brussels, according to leading Brexit expert Professor Anand Menon. This comes after Mr Johnson’s own chief Brexit negotiator signalled that the Prime Minister could make a major concession in UK-EU talks in a last-ditch attempt to secure a trade deal with the bloc.
Professor Menon was questioned on whether Boris Johnson will listen to growing concerns among his backbenchers and Brexiteers like Nigel Farage, who warn of a “sell-out deal”.
The leading Brexit expert admitted that Mr Johnson could accept “EU law” hanging over the UK if it means he secures a trade deal with Brussels.
He told ITV News: “What the Government can’t afford is for the Leave coalition to splinter into two.
“It was by uniting the leave coalition that the Tories got the majority they got last December.”
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The director of the UK in a Changing Europe explained: “There is no guarantee that even if some of the Tory Brexiteer backbenchers talk about a betrayal, that the public at large are going to be bothered because there is a tiny element of EU law still hanging over our head.
“It is hard to say what our politics will look like going forward.
“I’m not entirely convinced that Nigel Farage will have the room with a slightly softer Brexit deal than he had with in 2019, when the question was ‘They said we would leave and we haven’t’. That was quite clear cut.
“So, I’m not wholly convinced about the Farage threat, nor the backbenchers.
“I don’t think there are enough of the Brexit ultras to make an enormous difference.
“The Government has more wiggle room than you imply. Whether the Government recognises that, and wants to take the risk is a different question.
“But I suspect they will have to ward off criticism from their backbenchers and they have decided they have numbers to do it.
“Also remember, Parliament doesn’t actually get a vote on this.”
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On Thursday, British negotiator Lord David Frost suggested there were signs the Prime Minister was backing down over the UK’s state aid demands.
The UK has previously insisted its state aid policy would not form any part of its future deal with the Union.
Speaking to the House of Lords’ EU committee on Wednesday, Lord Frost claimed that the UK is softening on this by entering discussions with the bloc.
Also this week, the European Council president Charles Michel said the UK still needs to take “significant steps” in the coming days to secure a trade deal
Mr Michel said talks were approaching a “moment of truth” ahead of a crucial EU summit next week.
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