Johnson urges Varadkar to keep Brexit talks alive


Boris Johnson on Tuesday urged Leo Varadkar to keep religion with talks on a potential Brexit deal, regardless of Downing Street fears that the prospects for an settlement earlier than October 31 are all however lifeless.

Mr Johnson’s allies mentioned the British prime minister would meet the taoiseach later within the week to attempt to resuscitate the talks, after a day of acrimony by which Number 10 aides accused Mr Varadkar and Angela Merkel of blocking a deal.

Donald Tusk, European Council president, retaliated by accusing Mr Johnson of partaking in a “stupid blame game”, however each side appeared decided on Tuesday evening to cool tempers and keep away from an entire breakdown.

Mr Johnson’s crew described a 40-minute phone name with Mr Varadkar as “constructive” and mentioned they anticipated the prime minister to meet his Irish counterpart on Thursday or Friday for extra talks.

“Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal,” a Downing Street spokesman mentioned.

Each camp stays far aside on the important thing subject of how to deal with the Irish border, with tensions fuelled by what Downing Street referred to as a “frank” 30-minute telephone name between Mr Johnson and Ms Merkel.

Mr Johnson’s aides claimed Ms Merkel argued that Northern Ireland would have to stay within the EU customs union beneath any Brexit deal so as to keep away from a tough border. Mr Johnson has insisted that the area should keep within the UK customs territory.

“Merkel said that if Germany wanted to leave the EU, they could do it no problem, but the UK cannot leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a customs union and in full alignment forever,” mentioned a Downing Street insider.

“The call with Merkel showed the EU has adopted a new position. She made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely and she thinks the EU has a veto on us leaving the customs union.”

Sterling slipped to its lowest degree towards the euro for a month.

The Downing Street account brought on outrage amongst Ms Merkel’s supporters. “Johnson is misusing the phone conversation to start a blame game,” mentioned Norbert Röttgen, a senior MP within the chancellor’s CDU/CSU group.

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There is pessimism in Brussels and London concerning the prospects of a deal by October 31, not to mention by the point of an EU summit subsequent week. Talk in Brussels is popping to an extension of the Brexit course of — one thing Mr Johnson has vowed can’t occur.

Mr Johnson’s allies haven’t confirmed that the prime minister will certainly attend the October 17-18 summit, particularly if it turns right into a dialogue concerning the phrases and size of any extension to the Article 50 exit course of.

With talks on the snapping point, an unnamed Number 10 supply wrote a outstanding be aware by which they claimed Britain would punish EU member states in the event that they agreed to prolong the Article 50 exit course of.

Mr Johnson’s aides concern that the EU will resolve to push the prime minister into looking for a delay to Brexit, precipitating a common election and probably a second referendum, with the potential consequence that Brexit is reversed.

A be aware printed by The Spectator — attributed to a “contact in Number 10” and never disowned by Downing Street — mentioned there was a menace that any EU member state that agreed to delay Brexit could be responsible of “hostile” interference in British politics.

The be aware recommended that Britain would possibly withhold co-operation with nations that pushed the UK right into a Brexit extension, with safety and defence cited as potential examples. “Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue,” the be aware mentioned.

The combative language led many Tory MPs to conclude the be aware got here from Mr Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings and it led to cupboard ministers urging the prime minister to rein in his consigliere.

“I am clear that any threat on withdrawing security co-operation with Ireland is unacceptable,” tweeted Julian Smith, Northern Ireland secretary. “This is not in the interest of NI or the Union.”

Nicky Morgan, tradition secretary, complained to Mr Johnson that it was fallacious that the federal government’s place was relayed to a weekly journal earlier than cupboard. The prime minister replied that he spoke for the federal government, not nameless advisers.

The be aware printed by the Spectator additionally accused Mr Varadkar of “going back on his commitments” to negotiate severely if Mr Johnson agreed to keep Northern Ireland within the EU regulatory zone.

“Varadkar thinks that either there will be a referendum or we win a majority but we will just put this offer back on the table so he thinks he can’t lose by refusing to compromise now,” the be aware mentioned.

Additional reporting by Guy Chazan in Berlin and Laura Hughes in London


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