Brexit deal 'essentially impossible' after PM's call with Merkel, source claims


Johnson has consistently said the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal, though a law passed by parliament demands he write a letter to the European Union asking for a delay if he can not strike an exit deal by October 19.

Tuesday's talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK PM Boris Johnson highlighted the gulf between the two parties, adding to fear that the UK will leave the European Union on October 31 without a deal.

The EU hit back with unusually strong language. And Leo Varadkar might be happy that Boris Johnson isn't blaming Ireland for the no-deal Brexit everyone knows is coming.

The outgoing EU Council President Donald Tusk echoed Sturgeon, warning Johnson on Twitter that "what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game". But Varadkar later told broadcaster RTE he thought it would be "very hard to secure an agreement by next week". "And of course it isn't, really".

Johnson's Brexit envoy, diplomat David Frost, is in Brussels for technical talks on a possible withdrawal agreement to put to EU leaders at next week's European summit.

The plan published Tuesday detailed what the government has done to try and avoid those worst-case scenarios - many of which had been previously discussed.

Merkel warned Johnson that for any chance of a deal Northern Ireland has to remain in the EU's customs union. The officials added that if Ms. Merkel's concerns "represent a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible, not just now but ever".

Speaking in the House of Commons later that day, Labour MP Chris Leslie claimed that the statement about the phone call with Merkel had sparked "racist attacks" against Germans on social media from Brexit campaigners, including Leave.EU.

"She said Ireland is the government's special problem and Ireland must at least have a veto on NI leaving".

While Berlin had not given up hope, she said the chances of a no-deal exit were rising again as the nature of the UK's proposals made any compromise very hard.

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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".

He added that there were "conflicting reports" coming from London, and while he refused to name-drop any politicians, he said that Ireland were being "pressured" by the United Kingdom into accepting a less-than-adequate deal. However, "because we're in this limbo with Brexit, any headline moves the market", he said.

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 October 31 - without delay.

"If proven correct, these comments point towards a rejection of Johnson's plans of a customs zone, only to propose an unthinkable plan to split Northern Ireland away from mainland trade deals and standards".

German MP Norbert Rottgen, who chairs the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee, added on Twitter: "Frankly a deal on the basis of Johnson's proposal ... has been unrealistic from the beginning and yet the European Union has been willing to engage". That would require the backstop to remain in place until the United Kingdom comes up with a plan that actually does resolve the conflict between the GFA and Brexit.

Timeline: What's happening ahead of Brexit deadline?

Sassoli will meet with Johnson on Tuesday evening. This is the last such meeting now scheduled before the Brexit deadline.

If a deal is agreed, Boris Johnson will ask MPs to approve it - but if not, a range of options could be presented.

"For the United Kingdom to be asked to leave a part of its sovereign territory in a foreign organisation of which the UK would no longer be a part and over which we would have no say whatsoever is beyond insane".