Monday, 14 October, 2019

Europe's future at stake, EU's Tusk warns Boris Johnson

An information screen displaying the FTSE 100 at the London Stock Exchange Credit Yui Mok PA
Jean Garcia | 09 October, 2019, 12:32

It is not know if Mr Tusk was sending a pointed message to Mr Johnson, who is fond of Classical references, but it is clear he is not impressed by the prime minister's approach to the negotiations. "I think it will be very hard to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly", Varadkar told Irish national broadcaster RTE. Their position is that the United Kingdom can only leave with a deal if it agrees a binding piece of global law permanently tying either the whole country or a part of it to the EU's legal order. "And of course it isn't, really".

Last night the European Parliament's president said "no progress" was made during Brexit talks with Boris Johnson in Downing Street. Johnson unveiled a new plan last week aimed at keeping Britain's border with European Union member Ireland free-flowing after Brexit - a crucial issue in the divorce talks between Brussels and London.

But most of those plans may be halted by an early election.

Furthermore, it was claimed Merkel was reported to have said that the Britain can Brexit under current proposals, but Northern Ireland would have to remain within the EU's Customs Union.

No 10 has insisted Mr Johnson will comply with the law, but Laura Kuenssberg says there are still conversations going on in Downing Street about writing a second letter, making the case that a delay is unnecessary.

Narrator: It doesn't represent a new established position.

The UK government also released updated preparations for a "no deal" exit at the end of the month, indicating it was increasingly expecting the outcome. "Merkel said the PM should tell Northern Ireland it must stay in full alignment for ever but that even this would not eliminate customs issues", the source said according to the Guardian newspaper.

While Berlin had not given up hope, she said the chances of a no-deal exit were rising again as the nature of the UK's proposals made any compromise very hard. The bloc says the proposals - which would require customs checks on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and Ireland - don't fulfill the U.K.'s commitment to a frictionless Irish border.

The need to keep Northern Ireland in the European customs union - at least until the United Kingdom finds another suitable way to check goods flowing across the Irish border without the need for additional checks - has been the EU's position since the start of the Brexit negotiations. Hope is a powerful thing and we expect the market will trade in a choppy sideways fashion as long as the two sides are seen to be engaging.

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Mr Gove, minister in charge of no-deal planning, said businesses could look ahead with "confidence and certainty" whatever happens.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the comments were a "cynical" attempt by No 10 to "sabotage" the negotiations.

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.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister stated his preference for leaving the European Union with a deal". Brexit from the European Union on the UK's terms would require border checks to enforce the two different customs and regulatory regimes that would exist by the UK's design on the island.

"It reveals that there doesn't appear to be an actual plan at all", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

MPs will be called to Parliament for a special Saturday sitting in a decisive day for the future of Brexit.

Boris Johnson now has no majority in Parliament, and the only way he could restore it (and hence deliver Brexit) is to hold a general election.

On Monday the European Commission described Johnson's latest proposals, unveiled last Wednesday, as "untried and revocable", saying "we all agree we need a workable solution".

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