Tags: Brexit | brexit | eu | lashes | out | borisjohnson | merkel

UK Sees Brexit Deal as Almost Impossible as EU Lashes Out

UK Sees Brexit Deal as Almost Impossible as EU Lashes Out
(AP)

Tuesday, 08 October 2019 08:18 AM

The blame game over the looming failure of Brexit talks has begun after the U.K. said a phone conversation between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled a deal was effectively impossible. The pound fell.

According to a British official, Merkel told Johnson that Northern Ireland must remain part of the EU’s customs union if he wants to secure a divorce agreement with the bloc. 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 EU hit back with unusually strong language.

An EU summit, with Brexit on the table, is due next week and Johnson is has vowed to take the country of the EU by Oct. 31 -- without delay. Since Johnson’s appointment as prime minister, EU officials have privately acknowledged that the British government’s strategy is to pin responsibility for a no-deal Brexit onto them.

The pound tumbled to the weakest level in a month versus the euro after the official briefed on the contents of the call. Johnson has said he wants to take the U.K. out of the bloc on Oct. 31 whether an agreement with the EU is struck or not. The U.K. Parliament has passed a law forcing him to ask the EU for a delay, something the bloc has signaled its willingness to permit.

The need to keep Northern Ireland in the European customs union -- at least until the U.K. finds another suitable way to check goods flowing across the Irish border without the need for additional checks -- has been the EU’s position since the start of the Brexit negotiations.

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.” Hours later, the U.K. government published a report on its no-deal preparations. 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.

Neither the German chancellery nor the European Commission confirmed the contents of the Johnson-Merkel call. Merkel is well aware of the blame game which Downing Street has started, but does not intend to enter it, a German official said under the condition of anonymity.

U.K. government spokesman, James Slack, described the phone conversation as a “frank exchange” and denied Tusk’s characterization.

He said it was not acceptable for Northern Ireland to stay in the customs union and that Johnson had told Merkel that the U.K. had made a significant offer and that the EU needed to compromise. Slack also said that the U.K. had not asked an EU member state to use its veto power to block a delay.

© Copyright 2019 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

   
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The blame game over the looming failure of Brexit talks has begun after the U.K. said a phone conversation between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled a deal was effectively impossible. The pound fell.According to a British official,...
brexit, eu, lashes, out, borisjohnson, merkel
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2019-18-08
Tuesday, 08 October 2019 08:18 AM
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