Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans look to be falling aside because the European fee mentioned there are not any grounds to just accept a request from the UK for intensive weekend negotiations two weeks earlier than an EU summit.
EU sources mentioned there was no foundation for such discussions, given the British prime minister’s insistence on there being a customs border on the island of Eire.
Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, together with a group of a dozen British officers, did not persuade their EU counterparts in Brussels on Friday that he had a mandate from Downing Road to compromise on what the EU sees as main flaws within the UK authorities’s proposals.
Frost had been looking for to rescue the British prime minister’s proposed deal after it was strongly criticised. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had instructed diplomats on Thursday night that the British wanted to “basically amend their place”.
A European fee spokeswoman mentioned: “We’ve got accomplished discussions with the UK for at present. We gave our preliminary response to the UK’s proposals and requested many questions on the authorized textual content.
“We’ll meet once more on Monday to provide the UK one other alternative to current its proposals intimately.” The spokeswoman added that the proposals didn’t “present a foundation for concluding an settlement”.
An EU official mentioned: “The UK usually asks for conferences to maintain [the] course of going; we agree we must always go away no stone unturned. However there may be nothing helpful that could possibly be executed this weekend.”
A senior EU diplomat mentioned: “If we held talks on the weekend, it could seem like these have been correct negotiations. The reality is we’re nonetheless a good distance from that. We have to work out shortly whether or not there may be the chance to shut that hole.”
Brussels is keenly conscious of the hazard that Downing Road is taking part in a “blame sport” and the EU could possibly be seen as intransigent in rejecting the talks.
Sources mentioned it could not, nonetheless, faux to barter when there gave the impression to be doubt over any foundation for progress.
A UK authorities spokesman mentioned: “We’ve got made a major provide this week. Our proposals symbolize a good and cheap compromise. We wish a deal and talks proceed on Monday on the premise of our provide. Everyone should perceive nonetheless that there isn’t a path to a deal with out changing the backstop. If the EU additionally need a deal they need to recognise this and work with us at tempo to agree a brand new deal.”
The UK has proposed that Northern Eire go away the EU’s customs territory with the remainder of the UK on 31 October, however stay within the single marketplace for items.
The Northern Irish meeting, nonetheless, would retain a veto on the preparations on the finish of the standstill transition interval in December 2020 after which each 4 years.
Talking in Denmark, the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, mentioned the plan didn’t have the help of the folks of Northern Eire.
“I’m excited by options; any resolution has to have the help of the folks of Eire and Northern Eire,” he mentioned.
“What’s been placed on the desk by Mr Johnson will not be supported by enterprise or civil society in Northern Eire; it’s solely supported by one political get together, so there’s a protracted solution to go.
“Democracy issues, and any settlement that impacts Eire deeply has to have help from folks on each elements of the island.”
In response to the UK authorities’s admission in court docket paperwork that the prime minister accepted he must ask for an extension to Britain’s membership of the EU if a deal weren’t secured, Varadkar mentioned he would help such a Brexit delay.
“I’ve at all times mentioned that Brexit doesn’t finish with the UK leaving, it’s simply the subsequent part of negotiations, but when the UK have been to request an extension, we’d contemplate it. Most EU international locations would solely contemplate it for good motive, however an extension can be higher than no deal,” he mentioned.
Varadkar, who was talking alongside the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, mentioned: “Our focus is on securing an settlement and getting a deal on the European council summit.
“I consider that’s doable, however to ensure that it to be doable, all sides must reaffirm the shared aims when this began two or three years in the past – coming to an settlement required no arduous border between Eire, north and south, that the integrity of the one market of the European Union will likely be protected, and that the all-island financial system will likely be protected.
“What we have to do is refocus on these aims and are available to an settlement by the center of October, and I feel that’s doable.”
After discussions with the Northern Eire secretary, Julian Smith, the Irish deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, mentioned there have been some grounds for hope however a deal didn’t appear imminent.
“For the primary time, the British authorities beneath Boris Johnson has now accepted that there must be full regulatory alignment for all items to forestall the necessity for border infrastructure,” he mentioned.
“I feel that could be very welcome progress and it’s essential to recognise that, as a result of progress hasn’t been simple to search out in current weeks.
“The border query is about id and emotion and historical past and trauma linked to partition. That it why it’s so emotive, politically, and why now we have to be accountable when it comes to how we remedy it.
“I consider that the British prime minister desires to get a deal this month. We will definitely work to that timeframe if the British place evolves.”