Tuesday, 21 January, 2020


UK Sees Brexit Deal as Almost Impossible as EU Lashes Out

Unacceptable’ North Ireland secretary Julian Smith leaves 10 Downing Street after today’s cabinet meeting Unacceptable’ North Ireland secretary Julian Smith leaves 10 Downing Street after today’s cabinet meeting
Conrad Doyle | 09 October, 2019, 12:31

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of playing a "stupid blame game" on Tuesday after Downing street sources appeared to blame German chancellor Angela Merkel for pushing the Brexit talks between Brussels and London to the brink of collapse.

The grim assessment from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office following a phone call between the British leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes just weeks before an October 31 deadline to leave the EU.

Since Johnson's appointment as prime minister, European Union officials have privately acknowledged that the British government's strategy is to pin responsibility for a no-deal Brexit onto them.

The exchanges came after a Downing Street official - believed to be the PM's chief adviser Dominic Cummings - warned a Brexit delay offer from any European Union country will be seen as "hostile interference". A spokesman for the German chancellor confirmed the call had taken place but declined to comment further.

It would take Northern Ireland out of the EU's customs union but keep it largely aligned with the bloc's "single market" standards and regulations.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party that supports Johnson's government, accused the EU and Ireland of trying to trap the British province in a permanent customs union.

The two are expected to meet for talks later this week, according to the Press Association.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the EU's position had not changed.

"Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister (Theresa) May's government over two years and sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying "That's a concession".

A No 10 source says a Brexit deal is "essentially impossible" after a call between the PM and Angela Merkel.

Johnson has agreed to travel to Dublin on either Thursday or Friday to further engage Varadkar on proposals for a customs border on the island of Ireland, as well as his proposal that the Stormont assembly in Northern Ireland get an ultimate say on the future relationship of Northern Ireland and the EU.

"But the United Kingdom can not leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a customs union and in full alignment forever", the British source was quoted as saying.

And following talks in Downing Street, the president of the European Parliament said there had been "no progress" and MEPs would not agree to a compromise deal "at any price".

But Ireland braced for the worst with a no-deal Brexit budget while Britain announced its no-deal tarrif plan and updated on it preparations for a no-deal exit - the nightmare scenario for many big businesses.

Arlene Foster, leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Union Party (DUP), said in a statement that "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".

An EU summit, with Brexit on the table, is due next week and Johnson is has vowed to take the country of the EU by October 31 - without delay.

Tuesday 8 October - Last working day in the House of Commons before it is will be prorogued - suspended - ahead of a Queen's Speech to begin a new parliamentary session.

An earlier attempt by the government to shut down Parliament for five weeks was ruled illegal by Britain's Supreme Court because it had the effect of preventing legislators from scrutinizing the government's Brexit plans.

A deal needs to be reached and approved in next week's European Council summit.

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