RAMPAGING Boris Johnson will on Monday challenge Jean-Claude Juncker to throw the same Hulk-like effort into getting a new Brexit deal as he has.
The PM stunned defiant EU chiefs by likening himself to the angry, green Marvel superhero on Sunday — saying “the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets”.
In their first face-to-face meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, Mr Johnson will ask the EU Commission president to finally open formal negotiations.
But downbeat Mr Juncker said on Sunday that he was “not optimistic” any deal could be struck, as Mr Johnson’s plans still fall short. Ahead of their showdown meeting, the PM said on Sunday: “I will commit UK officials and my lead negotiator to work flat out to come up with a new agreement without being trapped into EU laws.
“Equally, I will ask President Juncker to say the same to his own team so we can get this done.”
The 30-day deadline he agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to come up with a fresh plan to replace the controversial Irish backstop expires this Friday.
So far, only technical talks have taken place as Britain fears any firm proposal it puts on the table will be shot down.
Instead, with just five weeks to go until the October 31 Brexit deadline, Mr Johnson wants EU leaders to “meet him halfway” and strike a mutual agreement.
A senior No10 source told The Sun: “What’s the point in us putting down a grand plan just for them to rip it up in front of us?
“This has to be a mutual process and that’s what the meeting with Juncker will be about”.
Threatening to turn into the Hulk if his pleas are refused, No10 also said the PM will tell Mr Juncker, mocked up here as Marvel villain Thanos, that if no deal is agreed at a crunch EU summit next month, he will defy a new law passed by MPs and “reject any delay offered by the EU”.
In The Incredible Hulk, mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner turns into the green monster when he is angered.
Boris told The Mail on Sunday: “Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets and he always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be — and that is the case for this country.
“We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done, believe me.”
EUROCRAT’S TWITTER MELTDOWN
But the EU’s arch-critic of Brexit and European Parliament chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt was not impressed.
He tweeted: “Even to Trumpian standards, the Hulk comparison is infantile. Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed? Is this Boris Johnson whistling in the dark?”
Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Sunday suggested that extending the post-Brexit transition period until December 2022 could be the key to unlocking a new EU deal.
It would allow more time to put a new customs system in place to replace the backstop, dubbed alternative arrangements.
But it risks infuriating hardline Brexiteers, as it would see Britain having to follow EU rules for more than two years after its exit.
Mr Barclay told BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics: “It is the case that operationally these issues do not apply until the end of the implementation period, which is December 2020 or one or two years later by mutual agreement.”
He said the Government can now “see a landing zone in terms of a future deal”.
But he added: “There is significant work still to do. The talks tomorrow will be an important step forward as part of that.”
The initial Tory party unity plan that first proposed alternative arrangements — known as the Malthouse Compromise — also proposes stretching the transition period to three years.
But Downing Street on Sunday night played down the suggestion. A No10 source said: “The transition period will last until December 2020. The Prime Minister has been clear that we’re not asking the EU for any more extensions.”
In an interview with German radio, Mr Juncker rejected Mr Johnson’s claim that “a huge amount of progress is being made”.
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He blamed the “many in the UK who are in favour of a No Deal, without considering the implications”.
Dubbing a No Deal Brexit “a mess”, the EU boss appealed to Eurosceptics: “If you love your country — I assume that there are still patriots in the UK — you do not want to wish your country such a fate.
“There is also the protection of the internal market. One should not simply be able to import products, goods, animals into Europe that do not comply with our internal market rules and requirements.”
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay proposed to extend the post-Brexit transition period until December 2022[/caption]
Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: ‘Even to Trumpian standards, the Hulk comparison is infantile’[/caption]
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