British PM Boris Johnson warns European Union he will not delay Brexit

Marco Green
October 7, 2019

The Elysée has stated that in a telephone discussion at the weekend Mr Macron said "the negotiation should continue rapidly in the next few days with [EU chief negotiatior] Michel Barnier's team so as to be able to evaluate at the end of the week if an agreement is possible".

Brussels has said the plans "do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement". Johnson on Saturday called his plan "a practical compromise that gives ground where necessary" but has also previously suggested it was a broad "landing zone"- which to Brussels suggests he might yet budge on issues it finds unacceptable.

But European leaders, who have reacted tepidly to the propositions and urged London to offer a revised, viable way forward, are yet to agree even to ramp up negotiations.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The PM said that this is the final opportunity to secure a deal - which is what all sides want - so we can move on and build a new partnership between the United Kingdom and the EU. On Oct. 31 we are going to get Brexit done". Johnson has frequently said that "we will obey the law, and will come out on 31 October", without specifying how that is possible.

He says the United Kingdom will leave on 31 October with or without a deal, despite a law forcing him to request an extension if no deal is agreed by the 19th.

European leaders have responded coolly to the UK's proposals, which would see Northern Ireland leave the customs union along with the rest of the United Kingdom, but remain in the single market for goods.

Government papers submitted to a Scottish court said that Mr Johnson will comply, despite his assertion that there will be "no more dither or delay". He stressed his offer would eliminate the safeguard introduced by the European Union to avoid a physical border between both Irelands, but that is rejected by British Eurosceptics, without having to implement customs checks, in addition to respecting the Irish peace agreement and giving guarantees to farmers and entrepreneurs.

"Johnson stated that he agreed with the timetable and understood that the conditions I presented regarding upholding the Good Friday (Northern Irish peace) Agreement, maintaining the unity of the European Union and ensuring a functional internal market are a prerequisite for a solution", Prime Minister Antti Rinne said in a statement. Under the United Kingdom plan there would be customs checks, but Britain says they could be conducted away from the border.

The EU's top negotiator Michel Barnier said at an event organised by French newspaper Le Monde last Saturday that while an agreement was still possible, it "will be very hard to reach".

But British Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox has apparently told Mr Johnson that he would quit his post if the Prime Minister did not abide by the law requiring him to delay Brexit should he not have a deal by Oct 19, The Mail on Sunday reported, without saying where it got the information.

Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, said yesterday that Britain could alter details of its plan to hand the Northern Ireland Assembly a veto over the proposal. Yet if he bends on them, Johnson risks losing tenuous support in the United Kingdom parliament to maybe pass a Brexit deal, reliant on 10 Democratic Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland and hard-core Brexit MPs in his Conservative Party.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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