EU & Britain 'not on point of Brexit deal', Barnier says

Tánaiste Simon Coveney

Tánaiste Simon Coveney

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

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

In a statement to British media, Downing Street said Ms. Merkel had told the Prime Minister that "a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely" unless Northern Ireland remains in a customs union with the EU - something the United Kingdom says it can't allow.

Meanwhile, Merkel is meeting European Parliament President David Sassoli and President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Berlin on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing negotiations.

Macron will meet Merkel at the Elysee Palace this coming Sunday to discuss European affairs ahead of the October 17-18 EU summit and preparations for a Franco-German summit on October 16, Macron's office said.

The main focus is on how to replace the so-called Irish backstop - the policy negotiated by Theresa May and the European Union to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The Downing Street official quoted Merkel as saying that a deal now looked "overwhelmingly unlikely", and added that the Brexit talks were "close to breaking down".

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. Johnson told the German chancellor that this demand, along with the EU's unwillingness to engage with his new proposals, was essentially paving the way to a no-deal Brexit.

The German Chancellor is said to have made it clear that a deal would only be possible if Northern Ireland were to stay in the Customs Union.

British government lawyers had told the court that Johnson accepted that he must carry out the requirements of the law demanding a delay, even though he has publicly rejected asking for any further extension.

He said if there is a no-deal the worst affected will be Britain and Ireland.

Ministers are preparing to summon MPs for a special Saturday sitting of Parliament following next week's crucial European Union summit.

Heritage Foundation's Luke Coffey on new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's impact on Brexit.

But after speaking to Mr Johnson by telephone on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar warned that it would be "very difficult" to get an agreement in time for next week.

On Tuesday, Johnson spoke to the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in a 40 minute call and agreed to meet later this week in what will be seen as a last-ditch chance to find a deal.

Late Monday night, an 800-word text message attributed to someone in Johnson's office, was published on the Spectator magazine and it blamed the EU's refusal to move on the Irish border question. The official claimed that as a outcome a deal looked "essentially impossible, not just now but ever".

Britain and the European Union traded ill-tempered barbs on Tuesday as the United Kingdom said a Brexit deal might be impossible, with just over three weeks until its scheduled departure from the bloc.

On Tuesday, the government suspended the legislature from Wednesday until October 14, when Queen Elizabeth II will set out the government's legislative domestic agenda.

But they said they had made a decision to delay consideration of the case until October 21, after the date Johnson will have had to ask for an extension if no divorce deal had been agreed.

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