Brexit: Simon Coveney rules out bilateral no-deal talks with the UK

Cheryl Sanders
August 21, 2019

On Monday, Mr Johnson wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk and said that the backstop - the contingency plan to avoid a hard border with Ireland - should be removed from the divorce deal ahead of the October 31 Brexit deadline.

Merkel, Europe's most powerful leader, said the European Union would consider "practical solutions" but that the Withdrawal Agreement, which contains the protocol on the Irish border "backstop", did not need to be changed.

Mr Tusk said: 'The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found.

The backstop means that the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland remains in the customs union with the EU, which means that it can not conclude its own trade agreements.

Referring to the letter written by Mr Johnson to Donald Tusk this week, in which he said the backstop was anti- democratic, Mr Hogan said this was unusual coming from "an un-elected Prime Minister" who had previously voted to support the backstop.

Perhaps the most promising signals from Europe have been from German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself, who will receive Boris Johnson in Berlin with military honours Wednesday night.

But Mr Corbyn said Boris Johnson's "denials can't be trusted", adding that they "will do nothing to give businesses or consumers any confidence that the dire state of affairs described in the documents aren't right around the corner". "Even if they do not admit it", Tusk tweeted.

The EU's diplomatic note said it needed to counter Johnson's assertions, insisting "it is incorrect to state that the people of Northern Ireland have no influence over the legislation that would apply to them".

Downing Street said that unless the backstop is abolished "there is no prospect of a deal". "I look forward to meeting with Boris this weekend, at the @G7, in France!"

"The withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation and the backstop is not open for change".

Johnson, who became prime minister on 24 July after winning the Conservative party leadership contest to succeed Theresa May, has promised that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union with or without a deal on October 31, and his government has ramped up its planning for a "no deal" scenario.

He said the British Government's approach to Brexit was making a no-deal far more likely.

The UK government has set up two advisory groups to explore technological alternatives to the Irish backstop.

He argued it is "anti-democratic and inconsistent with the sovereignty of the UK".

The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said changing the backstop by reopening the withdrawal agreement will not be possible. The EU refuses to renegotiate the deal it hammered out with Johnson's predecessor. And third, another new argument that the backstop actually undermines the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement, rather than protecting the peace settlement as the European Union claims.

Britain has chose to stop going to many European Union meetings unless its attendance is crucial so its diplomatic staff can better prepare for its scheduled departure from the bloc on October 31. Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, recently wrote a paper on the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the UKfood supply suggesting the government is deliberately keeping details of potential food shortages, limits, and transport delays out of its public Brexit planning strategy.

"All of the EU's actions so far since the Brexit vote demonstrate that the EU's priority is the cohesion of the 27".

Other reports by iNewsToday