Boris Johnson's Brexit strategy dismissed by European Union on first day as Prime Minister

New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has had his ambitious Brexit strategy slapped down by the European Union (EU) which insists the current withdrawal agreement is the "best and only agreement".

Johnson's election as Conservative Party leader, and consequently, Prime Minister, was largely based on his bombast approach to delivering Brexit by the deadline of October 31 - no matter what. 

He has several options to play with - attempt to pass the current withdrawal agreement through Parliament (something former Prime Minister Theresa May failed to do multiple times), attempt to forge a new deal with the EU, or exit the union with no deal.

While drawing up a new deal would be the most preferred option by Johnson, the EU doesn't seem so keen

On Thursday, in his first telephone call with Johnson in his position as Prime Minister, European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker said the current agreement is the "best and only agreement possible".

Junker says the Commission remains open to listening to Johnson's ideas, but they must be "compatible with the withdrawal agreement".

"President Junker reiterated that the Commission remains available over the coming weeks should the United Kingdom wish to hold talks and clarify its position in more detail," a summary of the phone call between the leaders said.

Jean-Claude Junker.
Jean-Claude Junker. Photo credit: Getty.

A key sticking point over the current agreement is the Irish backstop, which Johnson wants to rid from the deal, but the EU is adamant upon. 

The border between Northern Ireland - which is part of the United Kingdom - and the Republic of Ireland is the UK's only physical border. The backstop is a virtual last resort guaranteeing a flowing, open border if no specific arrangement for trade and immigration is sorted.

That maintains ties between the UK and EU - something which Johnson said goes against the idea of Brexit. If no arrangement is come to and no backstop is in place, the border may become a hard border, with infrastructure and checks like most inter-country borders.

"No country that values its independence, and indeed its self-respect, could agree to a treaty which signed away our economic independence and self-government as this backstop does," Johnson said.

Following Johnson's first speech in the House of Commons as Prime Minister on Thursday, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier reportedly sent a note to EU leaders repeating the position that gutting a backstop guarantee was unacceptable.

Barnier also labelled the speech "rather combative", according to the BBC.

Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson. Photo credit: Getty.

Much of Johnson's strategy is based on threatening a no-deal situation in the hope that will force the EU - who also doesn't want a no-deal - to renegotiate. But the EU says it is working on plans in case of a no-deal.

If a withdrawal agreement did pass, that would allow for a transitional period in which New Zealand could develop trade agreements. A no-deal situation would mean the UK exits the EU immediately, with no agreements in place for trade with other countries and creating chaos for exporters.