BORIS JOHNSON is living in a fantasy world.

He imagines that the EU might be bullied into backtracking on the Irish backstop if threatened with the catastrophe of a no-deal outcome, and accuses MPs who are trying to prevent a no-deal Brexit of undermining his negotiating stance.

This is nonsense. The EU has made it crystal clear that the backstop must remain.

European ministers are unanimous – an open border in Ireland is essential to maintaining cross-border co-operation, and preserving the hard-won peace process.

The backstop is merely an insurance policy. It requires the UK to remain within a “single customs territory” with the EU only “unless and until” alternative arrangements can be agreed to keep the Irish border open. Mr Johnson claims that these “alternative arrangements” can be found.

If he is so confident of this, he should have no problem agreeing to the backstop as it stands.

He and his cronies have a history of making rash promises. Mr Johnson declared that “our policy is having our cake and eating it,” despite clear warnings from the EU that there could be no “cherry-picking.”

Former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said that a free trade agreement with the EU “should be one of the easiest in human history,” and former Brexit Secretary David Davis promised that such a deal could “deliver the exact same benefits as we [now] have.” It seems they’d make any empty promise to secure a Leave vote, even suggesting we could continue to enjoy the benefits of EU membership after leaving.

This duplicitous government is not to be trusted.

Pete Winstanley, Durham