Boris Johnson’s ‘SuperCanada’ proposal is super flawed

by Luke Lythgoe | 28.09.2018

Boris Johnson has gone in all guns blazing against Theresa May today, with a 4,600-word column in The Telegraph. But with only six months to go before we are supposed to quit the EU, Johnson’s six-point plan for a “better Brexit” is full of holes.

  • “Chuck Chequers.” Fine, but May’s Chequers proposal was already killed off by the EU in Salzburg (though May won’t admit it). And Johnson doesn’t have a viable replacement.
  • Ditch the Irish “backstop”. The EU probably wouldn’t accept scrapping their Irish insurance policy to keep the border open even if Johnson had a workable proposal. He doesn’t. He’s still relying on “checks away from the border”. That means physical border infrastructure and a harder border than today. It goes against what has already been agreed, and would trample over the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.
  • “SuperCanada-style free trade agreement”. Presumably the “super” bit refers to a super amount of cherry-picking, which the EU will not tolerate as it undermines the single market and the EU project. In his article, Johnson demands no free movement, no role for the ECJ and that the EU accepts UK regulations. But he still wants “extensive provisions on services” and “smoothness” for our supply chains. This is a fantasy wishlist, and precisely what a free trade agreement outside the single market cannot deliver.

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  • Investing in border technology and staff. We will, of course, have to do this if Brexit happens. Think how better that money could be spent on other public services.
  • Accelerate no-deal preparations and end “Project Fear”. Johnson is worryingly casual about crashing out of the EU with no deal, referring to “banal questions of bureaucratic procedure” and arguing we used to trade smoothly with France and Germany before. That was 45 years ago: complex legal frameworks and much smoother, integrated supply lines now exist. You don’t just wrench yourself out of those without causing massive collateral damage.
  • Start negotiating free trade deals with other countries straight after Brexit. Has Johnson forgotten that we already have deals with over 65 countries – including, yes, Canada – thanks to our EU membership? We’ll have to renegotiate those just to get back to first base. And doesn’t he realise that we risk being bullied by America and China as we try to agree pacts with them – something they can’t do to the EU because its economy is bigger than theirs?

Dubbing May’s strategy a “moral and intellectual humiliation”, Johnson – with the backing of other leading Brexiters – is laying out his stall two days ahead of Conservative Party Conference. It looks like that event will be devoid of answers: no answers from May on the main stage, and nothing from the Brexiters on the fringe.

Don’t worry though, there will be grown-up voices at conference. Conservatives for a People’s Vote are holding their own rally on Monday.

The last train for a so-called “better Brexit” has long since left the station. What is on offer are Brexits that leave people asking “what’s the point”, “what’s the price” – or a blindfold deal where we don’t know the answers until too late. Politicians like Johnson can’t fix this – only you can sort this out: demand a People’s Vote.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

7 Responses to “Boris Johnson’s ‘SuperCanada’ proposal is super flawed”

  • 45 years ago when “we used to trade smoothly with France and Germany”, Boris Johnson lived in Brussels, so he probably doesn’t remember that most manufactured products were domestically produced, and trade policy was Commonwealth Preference. This was a time when people drove Austins and ate New Zealand lamb and butter. Audis, prosecco and olive oil were impossibly exotic.


  • Blous will do and say anything to keep his name appearing day after day. Don’t forget his salary as a columnist is significant and if was a ‘nobody’ would he continue to be employed there? Everything he says and does is to promote himself, nothing else.

  • For those who bothered to look, the out options were always basically Norway or Canada. If those are not suitable because they will cause disruption in ireland and will damage everyones standard of living directly or indirectly why did we vote to leave ? Was it because of outside influence in the process fanning the flames of genuine discontentment from some British people and the telling of lies. If this was the case Boris has a lot to answer for and his hero Winston Churchill would be discusted with him. As I am.

  • Kevin,

    There are many now insisting that ‘no deal’ was what the people voted for. It wasn’t, because people like David Davis insisted the German car manufacturers would insist Chancellor Merkel gave us a good deal (not that it is up to her, but why worry about the truth?).

    We have come a long way since then if Canada is the best they can come up with. Norway of course was always an option – even Farage mentioned it in passing. I remember arguing with leave supporters that it would be the worst of both worlds. They seem to have come round to my way of thinking, on that if nothing else.