Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, gestures as he stands with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, ahead of a private meeting in Downing Street, Tuesday Oct. 8, 2019. (Aaron Chown/Pool via AP)

EU sees hope in Brexit talks; Irish leader sees wide gaps


Despite having only days to bridge wide divisions over Brexit, the European Union maintained a semblance of hope Wednesday that the acrimonious fight over Britain's departure from the bloc could somehow still be settled amicably.

Across the European Parliament, voices resonated with frustration that one of the most important events for both the EU and the UK in decades had turned into a tone-deaf dialogue only three weeks ahead of Britain's planned Oct. 31 departure.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was working together with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on a last-gasp solution.

"Personally, I don't exclude a deal. Michel and myself are working on a deal," Juncker said.

He refused to be more specific but made clear that Brexit talks between the two sides haven't come to an irreparable standstill.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take his country out of the EU on Oct 31 with or without a divorce deal. If Britain does leave, it will be the first EU nation to exit the bloc, ending almost half a century of UK membership that brought economic and diplomatic clout to both sides.

For now, Juncker insisted Johnson needed to stop pouring all the blame on the EU for the negotiating standstill. On Tuesday, Johnson's Downing Street office claimed EU intransigence had made it "essentially impossible" for the UK to leave with a deal.

"We are not accepting this blame game that started in London," Juncker said.

Johnson, who took office in July after British lawmakers rejected the Brexit deal of his predecessor Theresa May three times, delivered his own Brexit proposals to the bloc last week.

Britain is seeking to renegotiate May's rejected divorce deal to loosen the economic ties binding the UK to the bloc while ensuring there is no hard border between EU member Ireland and the UK's Northern Ireland.

Barnier said the U.K.'s ideas were fundamentally flawed because they would mean imposing customs checks on the island of Ireland, and because they gave Northern Ireland's regional authority a veto on how to proceed.

"The proposal of the British government as things stand is not something we can accept," he said.

Johnson's proposals crossed so many of the EU's red lines, Barnier said, that he would need to fundamentally revamp his proposals — something the British leader has said he will not do.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland wanted a Brexit deal but "not at any cost."

"It's going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly," Varadkar told Irish broadcaster RTE late Tuesday after a 40-minute phone call with Johnson.

"Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister (Theresa) May's government over two years and have sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying, 'That's a concession.' And, of course, it isn't really," said the Irish leader.

The British government says it still hopes to strike a deal. Johnson and Varadkar are due to hold a private lunch in northwest England on Thursday, while UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is scheduled to meet Barnier on Friday.

But Johnson also insists the UK will leave the UK on Oct 31, come what may.

However, many members of Britain's Parliament are determined to prevent a no-deal Brexit, which economists say would plunge the UK economy into recession. Last month they passed a law requiring the government to ask the EU for a delay if no divorce deal has been agreed by Oct 19.

Anti-Brexit activists fear Johnson will try to wriggle out of that requirement, and asked Scotland's highest court to order the government to comply. Judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh said Wednesday there was no need to make a ruling yet because the government had promised to obey the law. They said they would revisit the decision if Johnson did not ask for the extension.

Elaine Motion, a lawyer for the claimants, said "the sword of Damocles is over the prime minister's head" and he would have to seek a delay to Brexit. An earlier version of this story was corrected to show that the Irish prime minister's last name is Varadkar, not Varadkhar.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Look a thing Boris' tie. There's no way he's not related to Donny.

It's hilarious that his tie is so long given a lot of Brits wear their ties unreasonably short.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Crash and burn from Boris and his minion Dom.

But they aren't going to win this.

The UK held to ransom by a bunch of over privileged delusionists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Brexit without deal will make Britain in favor when come to negotiate a trade. The French in particular, the French Government will not scarify its economy. So the French Government will favor the UK Government and in return, the French Government will seek better deal for the French Wine and Champagne, the French cars from the UK Government. Also German Government will seek a similar deal with the UK Government.

Currently the UK was dealing with a bunch of idiots from the EU. The UK has to deal and negotiate with selective two main players French Governments and German Government after no deal Brexit.

Also the EU future will depend on how the UK's economy is doing after Brexit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites