Thursday, 20 February, 2020


European Union may offer to extend deadline for Brexit deal to summer

Boris Johnson is running out of time to get a Brexit Deal done amid the October 31 deadline Camera Icon Boris Johnson is running out of time to get a Brexit Deal done amid the October 31 deadline. Credit AP
Bennie Garza | 09 October, 2019, 16:30

The Downing Street source said that if Merkel's position on Northern Ireland remaining in the EU's customs union was the bloc's position, then a deal was impossible.

Johnson says Britain will leave without a negotiated settlement if a deal can't be reached by the Brexit deadline of October 31.

A Downing Street official said a lengthy phone call between Angela Merkel and Mr Johnson had led the United Kingdom to believe a compromise over the Irish border was now "essentially impossible", with talks "close to breaking down".

Johnson's idea is pinned on the UK's suggestion to have two borders around Northern Ireland - turning the existing (invisible) border with the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member, into a formal customs border (albeit with physical checks and infrastructure some distance from the border itself), with a regulatory border in the Irish Sea, allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the EU's "single market".

Britain and the European Union traded ill-tempered barbs Tuesday as the United Kingdom said a Brexit deal might be impossible, with just over three weeks until its scheduled departure from the bloc.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson "will never take responsibility for his own failure to put forward a credible deal", and called on Parliament to "unite prevent this reckless government crashing us out of the EU".

He added that the Chancellor and the German government are "good friends" of Britain.

"For the United Kingdom to be asked to leave a part of its sovereign territory in a foreign organisation of which the UK would no longer be a part and over which we would have no say whatsoever is beyond insane", she said.

European Council President Donald Tusk expressed this assumption in a Twitter rant aimed directly at Boris Johnson. PM Johnson will meet the Irish Taoiseach on Friday for further talks, but expectations are low for any positive outcome.

Barnier said Wednesday that "the deal is possible and very hard, but possible".

"We very much want there to be a deal and I'll certainly work until the very last moment to secure that - not at any cost", he told RTÉ News. "Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal", a Downing Street spokesman said.

David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, warned that the EU "will not agree to a deal that undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process or compromise the integrity of our single market", as he sounded a pessimistic be aware following a gathering with Johnson in London. But any new accord would not be passed by the European Union parliament "at any price", he added, stressing it would not approve of one that did not uphold the Good Friday Agreement.

BREXIT BLAME GAME An array of remarks by unidentified British sources laid bare just how far apart the two sides are after three years of tortuous haggling over the first departure of a sovereign state from the EU.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister stated his preference for leaving the European Union with a deal".

Speaking in the House of Commons later that day, Labour MP Chris Leslie claimed that the statement about the phone call with Merkel had sparked "racist attacks" against Germans on social media from Brexit campaigners, including Leave.EU.

Scotland's top civil court is due to rule Wednesday whether someone else - possibly a judge - could sign an extension request if Johnson fails to follow parliament's order to ask for one if there is still no deal by 19 October.

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