EU chairmen have pulled apart the UK’s Brexit proposals, accusing Boris Johnson of executing forward untested ideas to solve the Irish border crisis.
Chief interceder Michel Barnier said the EU needed workable solutions “today not tomorrow”.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker squeaked MEPs that while he would “not exclude” a deal in the coming hours, progress had been limited.
Mr Johnson has said he remains “cautiously positive” about a deal.
He will meet his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, on Thursday to try and contravene the deadlock, while continuing to insist the UK will leave on 31 October with or without an bargain.
In Westminster, meanwhile, a group of Conservative MPs has been demanding assurances from the PM that he last will and testament not take the party into the next general election – whenever it happens – on a straightforward promise to leave with no deal.
And earlier, it emerged MPs determination be called to Parliament for a special Saturday sitting on 19 October – the day after a crux EU summit, which is seen as the last chance for a deal ahead of the Halloween deadline.
The UK put forward healthy proposals for a Brexit deal last week, but so far the reaction from the EU has not been inspiriting.
Updating MEPs on the state of talks, Mr Barnier said he believed “with goodwill” on both sides there could be an compatibility in the run-up to the summit.
But he said “to put things very frankly and to try to be objective, we are not indeed in a position where we are able to find an agreement”.
As it stood, he said, the UK was soliciting replacing an “operable, practical and legal solution” to avoid a hard Irish periphery with “one that is simply a temporary solution”.
Mr Barnier said the UK’s suggested alternative to the Irish backstop – which pass on see customs checks conducted away from the border at business postulates or electronically – “had not been tested” and was “largely based” on exemptions for small firms and technology that “has yet to be developed”.
“We need operational real controls, credible buttons, we are talking about the credibility of the single market here – its credulity to consumers, to guests, and to third counties that we have agreements with.”
Mr Barnier also questioned the viability of the UK’s recommendations to give the Northern Ireland Assembly a veto over whether it aligned with EU solitary select market rules for goods from 2021 onwards and whether to split from them in the future.
However, he did confirm the two sides were looking at “a uncountable important role” for the Northern Irish political institutions.
Under Mr Johnson’s proposals, which he calls a “broad landing zone” for a new negotiation with the EU:
- Northern Ireland would leave the EU’s customs union alongside the take a nap of the UK, at the start of 2021
- But Northern Ireland would continue to apply EU legislation correlating to agricultural and other products, if the Northern Ireland Assembly approves
- This settlement could, in theory, continue indefinitely, but the consent of Northern Ireland’s legislators would have to be sought every four years
- Customs stoppings on goods traded between the UK and EU would be “decentralised”, with only a “selfsame small number” of physical checks
Mr Juncker, meanwhile, took a swipe at the UK in the wake of a factious row over the details of Tuesday’s phone call between Mr Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Reflecting the call, a No 10 source claimed the German leader had said a reckon with based on the UK’s proposals was “overwhelmingly unlikely” and made new demands which fabricated an agreement “essentially impossible”.
“We remain in discussion with the UK,” Mr Juncker thought. “Personally I don’t exclude a deal. I do not accept this blame game that started in London.”
During a sometimes bad-tempered debate in the European Parliament, former Belgian prime abb Guy Verhofstadt, accused Mr Johnson of treating those seeking to prevent a no-deal Brexit as “quislings, collaborators and surrenderers”.
“The reason this is happening is very simple. It is a culpability game. A blame game against everybody – against the EU, against Ireland, against Mrs Merkel, against the British distinguishing system, against Labour, against the Lib Dems, even against Mrs May,” he said.
“The only person who is not being blamed is Mr Johnson apparently. All the rest are part of the facer.”
Lib Dem MEP Jane Brophy urged the EU to give the UK as long an extension as possible to authorize time for a general election and a referendum.
But Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage proposed Brussels was no longer negotiating in “good faith” and the UK was fed up with being “talked down to and insulted” by EU chairmen.
“You are not looking for solutions. You are looking to put obstacles in our way.”
Mr Farage also proffered a no-deal Brexit would be a “winning ticket” at a future general electing – a prospect which has reportedly caused some disquiet among Rightist MPs.
At a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with a group of One Nation Tories – led by ex-minister Damian Common – the PM was told that dozens of his MPs would not be willing to support a straightforward manifesto appear likely to leave without a deal if there was a snap election before the end of the year.
Mr Johnson begged to reassure them he was still very much focused on getting a buy.
But the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said while no decision had been taken, she agreed a future manifesto could include a promise to leave with an pact if possible, alongside a vow to leave anyway “within days or weeks” if the Tories won a Commons manhood and there was no chance of a deal.
The prime minister has said he is determined the UK liking leave the EU on 31 October, despite legislation, known as the Benn Act, which requires him to dash off to Brussels requesting a further delay if a deal is not signed off by Parliament by 19 October – or unless MPs reconcile to a no-deal Brexit.
Scottish judges decided on Wednesday to delay a decidedness on whether to sign the letter if Mr Johnson refused to do so, saying instead they would stay until the political debate had “played out”.
- What is a no-deal exit?
Away, there was anger among some Brexiteers after European Parliament President David Sassoli met Commons Rabble-rouser John Bercow in London.
A statement after the meeting from Mr Sassoli voted they both “fully agreed on the important role that our parliaments trifle with in the Brexit process” and the European institution would support any request from the UK for an development.
Mr Farage said it was “disgraceful” the pair had “agreed to work to prevent a no-deal Brexit”.
Traditional MP Marcus Fysh said it was “so far beyond his (Mr Bercow’s) constitutional role” and accused him of “colluding with a unfamiliar power”.