EU’s Michel Barnier swipes he is still waiting for ‘concrete’ plansSeptember 12, 2019
EU negotiator Michel Barnier swipes that he is still waiting for ‘concrete, legally operational proposals’ from the UK on Brexit
- Michel Barnier says he will consider any ‘concrete, legally operational’ ideas
- The swipe came despite Boris Johnson saying he can see ‘landing space’ for deal
- Diplomatic activity is ramping up with just 49 days until the UK is due to leave
Michel Barnier swiped that he is still waiting for ‘concrete, legally operational proposals’ from the UK on Brexit today.
The EU’s chief negotiator delivered the thinly-veiled rebuke to Boris Johnson as he arrived to brief MEPs in Brussels.
Diplomatic activity has been ramping up amid rising fears of No Deal, with just 49 days to go until Britain is due to leave the bloc.
It came despite Mr Johnson insisting today that he could see the ‘landing space’ where a deal with the EU can be done.
The PM last night moved to quash claims he was wavering over the full removal of the pivotal Northern Irish border backstop, saying he would ‘insist’ it was scrapped.
Aides were believed to be examining proposals for arrangements that would apply only to Northern Ireland, rather than aligning the whole UK with EU market rules.
EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier delivered the thinly-veiled rebuke to Boris Johnson as he arrived to brief MEPs in Brussels today (pictured)
That could raise tensions with the DUP, which has insisted it will not accept anything that risks splitting the union.
Mr Johnson previously stated that he was seeking a ‘backstop-ectomy’, to remove the controversial provision from the Withdrawal Agreement altogether.
However, the premier’s options are looking increasingly limited, after Parliament passed a law effectively banning No Deal at the end of October, and refused his call to trigger an early general election.
Speaking at the European Parliament this morning, Mr Barnier said he was ready to look at ‘any concrete legally operation proposals from the UK’.
On a visit to HMS Belfast in London today, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m very hopeful that we will get a deal, as I say, at that crucial summit. We’re working very hard – I’ve been around the European capitals talking to our friends
‘I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you can do it – it will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there.’
But if we have to come out without a deal on October 31, we will be ready.’
German chancellor Angela Merkel suggested there was still ‘every chance’ of an orderly Brexit yesterday.
But other EU leaders have been less positive, with Spanish premier Pedro Sanchez indicating he believes there is little prospect of a compromise and No Deal is the most likely outcome.
On a visit to HMS Belfast in London today, Mr Johnson said he was ‘very hopeful that we will get a deal’
In the second Facebook Q&A session last night, Mr Johnson tried to play down speculation over concessions.
‘The backstop is going to be removed, I very much hope. I insist. Because that is the only way to get a deal,’ he said.
‘The UK Parliament will not accept the current Withdrawal Agreement. There is no way that is going through.
‘But the crucial thing to understand is that we will not accept … a Northern Ireland-only backstop.
‘That simply doesn’t work for the UK, we have got to come out whole and entire and solve the problems of the Northern Ireland border. I’m absolutely certain we can do that.’
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