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Sunday, 21 July 2019

Five EU countries negotiate with Boris to avoid No Deal Brexit: Leaders 'offer Johnson a new plan' and Irish PM says 'let's avert catastrophe'

  • EU countries are reportedly wooing Boris Johnson to make a new Brexit deal 
  • Figures from Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands and are said to have contacted Mr Johnson - who is the favourite to become the next PM
  • It comes amid warnings Britain leaving the EU with No Deal would be a disaster
EU countries are secretly wooing Boris Johnson in a bid to thrash out a new Brexit plan that would avoid No Deal, according to reports.   
Senior Irish politicians and diplomats have held talks with two of Johnson's cabinet allies in recent days, and German and French figures as well as the Dutch and Belgian governments have also established contact with Johnson's team and signalled an intention to do a deal, it is claimed.  
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has indicated Dublin is prepared to compromise, the Sunday Timesreported. 
Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal but Coveney said in an article for the paper that EU member Ireland wants to avoid a no-deal exit at all costs.
'If Britain decides to leave without a deal it could cause huge damage to us all,' he wrote. 'A no-deal Brexit would devastate the northern Irish economy.'
The news comes amid Justice Secretary David Gauke's announcement that he will quit the Government on Wednesday if Boris Johnson wins the race to become prime minister - over objections to the Conservative frontrunner's plans to brace for No Deal. 
Mr Gauke said that crashing out of the European Union would lead to national 'humiliation'.
Boris Johnson is pictured outside his second home in Oxfordshire yesterday
Boris Johnson is pictured outside his second home in Oxfordshire yesterday  
Johnson is widely expected to have beaten Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt when the result of a ballot of members of the ruling Conservative Party for their next leader to replace Theresa May is announced on Tuesday. 
The news comes amid reports Brussels will offer Mr Johnson a Brexit extension past October 31 in a final bid to strike an agreement deal and to help him keep the Conservative party together.
The extra time in the EU would be used for negotiation but could apparently be sold to Tory Brexiters as a chance to further prepare for a No Deal exit.
Yesterday protestors marched through central London for a 'No to Boris, yes to Europe' demonstration
Yesterday protestors marched through central London for a 'No to Boris, yes to Europe' demonstration 
Protestors flew a Boris 'blimp' similar to the one fashioned of Donald Trump, with a £350million battle bus T-shirt and Nigel Farage underwear over Parliament Square
Protestors flew a Boris 'blimp' similar to the one fashioned of Donald Trump, with a £350million battle bus T-shirt and Nigel Farage underwear over Parliament Square 
Anti-Brexit protestors are pictured marching down Whitehall during a demonstration yesterday
Anti-Brexit protestors are pictured marching down Whitehall during a demonstration yesterday
'It will be described as a technical delay to save Boris from political embarrassment but then we will have time to find an agreement,' one senior EU diplomat told The Guardian.
Yet the reported approach will worry hard Brexiters in Westminster who want to leave on 31 October no matter the cost. 
Key member states are said to be increasingly confident that the UK leaving without a deal could be avoided after the House of Commons this week voted to prevent the next prime minister from proroguing parliament. 
The proposal reportedly being discussed in Brussels could see Johnson, who is expected to be the next Prime Minister, insist he is heading towards leaving without an agreement, all while keeping discussions ongoing for a deal with the bloc.
EU leaders are said to also be contemplating how they are going to escape a crisis if Johnson does proceed with No Deal on 31 October. 
A second diplomat told the Guardian: 'How do we build back out of the abyss in a time where minds on both sides of the channel are probably not very consolatory?
'We need to pre-empt that moment and create a platform for re-engagement on the day the UK leaves which might be used once the dust has settled. Provided of course the existing obligations are settled.' 
Yet EU diplomats are confident that a No Deal is now less likely following the events of this week.
On Friday, Philip Hammond and Tory Remainer rebels suggested they could bring down the next government 'in the interests of the country' if Boris Johnson pursues a No Deal Brexit.
Mr Hammond has claimed a further Brexit delay is 'urgently needed' to avoid a disorderly divorce but he also failed to rule out backing a vote of no confidence in a government led by Mr Johnson. 
Boris Johnson, pictured on Friday in Westminster, has committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 'do or die' and with or without a deal
Boris Johnson, pictured on Friday in Westminster, has committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 'do or die' and with or without a deal
Philip Hammond, pictured yesterday at a G7 meeting in Paris, France, has claimed a further Brexit delay is 'urgently needed' to avoid a disorderly divorce
Philip Hammond, pictured yesterday at a G7 meeting in Paris, France, has claimed a further Brexit delay is 'urgently needed' to avoid a disorderly divorce
Meanwhile, Stephen Hammond, a Remain-backing Tory health minister, has hinted he would be willing to push the 'nuclear button' of a no confidence vote as he said politicians must 'do the right thing as they see it for the country'. 
Mr Hammond said he was not going to 'exclude anything at the moment' when asked directly whether he could back a bid to scupper Mr Johnson who has pledged to deliver Brexit by October 31 'do or die'. 
This week, Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming president of the European Commission who will take office the day after Brexit on November 1, said she is 'ready' to agree to a further extension. 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday reiterated the EU's long-held stance that it will not renegotiate the divorce agreement it struck with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May.
'The withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement,' she said.
However she added: 'But the moment that a solution for the management of the border is found in (the declaration on) the future relationship - so for the European Union's future ties to Britain -- which basically squares the circle - on the one hand I have no physical border but on the other hand the EU Single Market ends - that satisfies both questions, then the backstop will be overwritten, so to speak.'
Merkel added: 'This means the task is to draft future relations that way and perhaps to draft them more specifically and better and more precisely than so far.'
Then there is scope to come to an agreement and determine future relations, Merkel said.
And on Friday, Conservative lawmaker Alberto Costa, who led the cross-party delegation that met EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, said: 'He made very clear that the European commission has at its very top of the political agenda the protection of citizens' rights and it will continue to do everything it can to protect the rights of those 5million citizens even in the absence of a withdrawal agreement.'


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