A Brexit deal between Britain and the EU is now essentially “impossible” following a phone call between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel.
According to a source from No. 10 the British prime minister and the German chancellor spoke earlier about the proposals put forward to the EU, but Merkel made it clear that a deal based on them was “overwhelmingly unlikely”.
After Downing Street claimed the EU had made the deal “impossible”, the European Council President Donald Tusk accused Boris Johnson of playing “some stupid blame game”
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Press TV reports: According to Sky News, quoting the Downing Street source, the PM spoke to the German Chancellor for 30 minutes this morning, with Johnson reportedly telling Merkel that Brexit negotiations are “close to breaking down”.
The Downing Street source went much further by claiming that an EU-UK agreement is “essentially impossible not just now but ever”.
According to multiple media reports, irresolvable disagreement over the Irish border backstop remains the main obstacle to a breakthrough in the negotiations.
The BBC’s Brussels reporter, Adam Fleming, is quoting the Downing Street source as claiming that the EU wants to keep Northern Ireland permanently “trapped” in the customs union – a red line for British negotiators.
This latest development has completely transformed the political mood, not least because only yesterday the French President, Emmanuel Macron, struck a tentatively positive note by saying that the EU would make a Brexit deal decision by the end of the week.
The incendiary briefing by Downing Street has elicited a sharp response from EU leaders, who are accusing the British government of deliberately wrecking Brexit negotiations.
The strongest reaction came from Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, who directly tweeted Johnson, writing: “What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis [Where are you going]?”
Ireland’s foreign minister and Tánaiste (deputy head of government), Simon Coveney, says that it is “hard to disagree” with Tusk’s comments.
Johnson has also come under fire from British political leaders for potentially fatally undermining last-ditch Brexit talks.
Scotland’s First Minister, and the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, has accused Downing Street of attempting to “shift the blame for the Brexit fiasco”.
Echoing that sentiment, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, told MPs the government was “intent on collapsing the talks and engaging in a reckless blame game”.