Thursday, 17 October, 2019

DUP join the 'blame game' as relations with European Union sour

An information screen displaying the FTSE 100 at the London Stock Exchange Credit Yui Mok PA
Russell Knight | 09 October, 2019, 08:44

The blame game over the likely failure to reach a Brexit deal escalated, with Downing Street accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of making an agreement effectively impossible.

Following the meeting, Downing Street said there was "little time" left to negotiate a new legally-binding withdrawal agreement, but Mr Johnson remained committed to doing all he could.

After the call, Arlene Foster, leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which supports Johnson's Brexit stance, said accepting that position would be "surrender".

"Boris Johnson, what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game", he tweeted.

A frustrated Mr Tusk accused Britain of playing with "the future of Europe and the UK" with no clear plan of what the country wanted.

"You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?" - a Latin phrase meaning "where are you going?"

But should a delay still be granted at the European Union summit, Johnson will campaign for a "no-deal" in any snap election, the Downing Street source told The Spectator.

"It would run counter to all the principles the German government has followed for the last three years, namely that the negotiations are led by the European commission". The backstop - having Northern Ireland in the customs and regulatory union or all of the United Kingdom - would last as long as it takes the United Kingdom to solve the problem that backstop temporarily resolves.

The plan published Tuesday detailed what the government has done to try and avoid those worst-case scenarios - many of which had been previously discussed.

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"There has been a lot of scepticism about Johnson's proposal in Berlin, but Merkel's attitude has always been a positive one, to find out if there is room for a compromise", Sief said.

Parliament is set to be suspended later Tuesday so that a new session can begin next week with a major policy speech from Mr Johnson's Conservative government. "To brief out a confidential phone call in such a manner is utterly unprofessional and infuriating to anyone who has been working on a deal".

Mr Johnson talked to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar for 40 minutes.

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

The EU would see it as an unacceptable loss of control if the Stormont Assembly is given a veto and there were no guarantees over what checks the United Kingdom would carry out on goods going to Ireland.

A debate among EU27 states over the end date for any extension is yet to take place.

The government did not deny the report in the Spectator, which also said Boris Johnson "will do all sorts of things to scupper a delay" to leaving the EU.

Mr Johnson has insisted Britain will leave on October 31 regardless, while promising to obey the law.

It's not clear how those two statements can be reconciled - but it's clear Mr Johnson wants to pin the blame for any delay on Parliament and the European Union, so that he can campaign as a champion of Brexit in an election that's likely to be called soon. "We could extend to September without any problem, but what would you achieve over the summer?" But the government acknowledges there will be new tariffs on 60 per cent of British exports to the European Union, including levies of more than 50 per cent on beef and lamb. Lord Lilley went on to claim the new deal being offered would require a lot of work but did still have major concessions from the UK.

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