POLITICS
19/12/2019 11:14 GMT | Updated 19/12/2019 12:19 GMT

Boris Johnson Orders Officials To Drop The Term 'Brexit' After January 31

HuffPost UK learns that No.10 is keen to show that Brexit is 'done' within weeks, despite a year of crunch negotiations ahead.

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Boris Johnson has ordered officials to drop the term “Brexit” after Britain leaves the EU on January 31, HuffPost UK has learnt.

Downing Street will also refuse to refer to the UK-EU free trade agreement to be negotiated next year as a “deal”, arguing that the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement is the Brexit deal.

Johnson is so keen to show Brexit will be “done”, as he promised in the election, that No.10’s Brexit press team will be renamed after January 31, with “Europe and economy” one new name being floated by officials.

One government source said: “Once we’re out on January 31 that’s it.

“The deal is done and after that it’s all about the future relationship.”

The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) will also be wound up after Brexit on January 31, the government confirmed on Thursday.

A spokesperson said: “DExEU staff have been spoken to today. We are very grateful for all their work and we will help everyone to find new roles.”

It comes amid criticism that Brexit will by anything but done because the PM’s deal takes the UK into a standstill transition period when little will change, while crunch negotiations take place with the EU over a long-term trade relationship.

MPs are on Friday expected to back Johnson’s deal in a first stage vote on the withdrawal agreement bill, which now includes a move to outlaw any extension of the transition beyond December 2020.

Parliamentary officials expect the bill to finish its passage through the Commons by January 10, and the Lords a week or two later, allowing the UK to leave the EU on January 31.

Both London and Brussels are keen to immediately move on to the second stage of future trade negotiations as soon as possible after exit.

HuffPost UK has learnt that the government will alter its tactics for the talks following what some see as a botched negotiation by Theresa May in the first stage.

Downing Street will now seek to get on the front foot by stating its negotiating objectives and red lines clearly in public, a departure from May’s attempts to essentially conduct the talks in secret.

The ex-PM’s approach has been criticised by the likes of Raoul Ruparel, her former Brexit adviser, who has suggested it allowed Brussels to set the narrative of the talks, forcing the UK to spend negotiations trying to “argue the EU down from its opening positions”.

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Johnson’s decision to move on from talking about Brexit and the deal are part of his efforts to reconcile a divided nation following what he has called three years of “increasingly arid argument”.

The PM has promised he would “never ignore” Remainers’ “good and positive feelings” towards the EU, calling for their renewal as the UK leaves and looks to “build a new partnership”.

“Let the healing begin,” Johnson told voters from the steps of Downing Street last week.