Boris Johnson has claimed he can achieve "orderly, managed Brexit" on deadline by ditching the Northern Irish backstop in favor of "alternative arrangements".
Giving an extensive BBC interview after facing criticism for ducking media scrutiny, the Conservative leadership frontrunner insisted he was not aiming for a no-deal Brexit.
"I've got that to tell you," he told the World at One. "But the only way to make sure that we convince our partners that we are going to get that outcome is to prepare for a deal – and I think people do that."
Asked what he said about the backstop, which he described as "that prison, that Hobson's choice," Johnson pointed to the Brady amendment. Passed by Parliament in January, with the support of the Government, the amendment called "alternative arrangements" – despite the government then tried to renegotiate this with Brussels and failed.
Johnson suggested this would be the "maximum facilitation" approach he advocated while in Theresa May's cabinet, from which he resigned over her Checkers deal last summer.
He said that what is "easily capable of solving".
"The obvious way to do it is to make sure you have the checks on the person who breaks the law, but you do not want to leave the border," he said next phase of negotiations on Britain's future trade relationship with the EU.
"The facilitations that need to be provided for that take place – those should not be preordained by the backstop. They should be remitted into the implementation period for discussion after we left, "he said.
The EU27 have repeatedly insisted on the backstop as the legal underpinning of both sides' commitment to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
"Our friends and partners over the channel say we can not do this, this is a unicorn," Johnson said. "But I think there is a solution to be in this area, and we should work hard for it."
Brexit plan, Johnson sought to burnish his liberal credentials by promising early legislation to enshrine the rights of EU citizens in law.
"There is a clear way that the now effectively defunct withdrawal agreement can be disaggregated: the good bits of it can be taken out," he said.
Johnson claimed that once Britain had left the EU he would focus on pursuing, "modern, progressive conservatism," which he called a "winning formula."
"Once we get Brexit off the front pages, there's a massive opportunity for the Conservatives, once again, to occupy the center-ground of British politics," he said. "Now is the chance for us to do some absolutely fantastic things."
Johnson denied having used cocaine as a "single inconclusive event" more than 30 years ago.
The former foreign secretary, who has been using the drug throughout his campaign, said he had only used the Class A substance once.
Johnson described the incident as "a single inconclusive event that took place when I was a teenager and which I have extensively described".