Boris Johnson, Britain's new prime minister, could not have been any clearer in his inaugural speech as the country's head of state: the United Kingdom is definitely leaving the E.U. on October 31, deal or no deal — "no ifs or buts."
"There are pessimists at home and abroad who think, after three years of indecision...we are incapable of honoring a democratic mandate," Johnson said in front of his new home at 10 Downing Street. "Those critics are wrong. The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters, they are going to get it wrong again."
The new prime minister promised that under his administration, Britain will reach a deal with the E.U. that will both "maximize the opportunity of Brexit" and create new economic partnerships with Europe.
In particular, Johnson reassured voters that he is "convinced" he can reach an exit agreement with the E.U. that will not involve the so-called Irish backstop, a policy option highly criticized by hardline Brexiters that will force post-Brexit Britain to maintain an open border between Ireland — an E.U. member — and Northern Ireland to avoid the re-emergence of violence and unrest that plagued the region during The Troubles.
The British parliament repeatedly shot down the Brexit deals advocated by previous British prime minister Theresa May because they failed to close the open-border between Britain and the E.U. while also guaranteeing peace in the region at the same time. Johnson will most likely have to resolve the backstop issue if he is to pass a Brexit deal through parliament.
The prime minister said he hopes to extract a concession on the Irish border issue from the E.U. by adopting a maximalist stance. He said that he will "refuse under any circumstances to have such checks and...that anti-democratic backstop," leaving it up to the Europeans whether or not to accept a Brexit deal without a backstop.
"Nevermind the backstop," Johnson said. "the buck stops here."
Johnson also promised that any E.U. residents currently residing in the United Kingdom will be allowed to remain in the country even after Brexit happens and ends the free movement of people between Europe and Britain.
"I can assure you that under this government," he continued," you will have the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain."
That said, the prime minister noted that his administration will prepare for a potential no-deal Brexit, which will happen if Britain leaves the E.U. without finalizing its post-Brexit relationship with Europe. Some analysts predict a no-deal Brexit could severely disrupt the country’s economy as a shortage of basic amenities occurs.
"It is, of course, vital, at the same time, we prepare for the remote possibility that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate, and we are forced to come out with no-deal," he said. "Not that we want that outcome...But of course, it is common sense to prepare."