EU chief negotiator tells Boris Johnson to stop 'pretending to negotiate' over Brexit deal

Posted On: 
18th September 2019

Michel Barnier has told Boris Johnson to stop “pretending to negotiate” over a new Brexit deal.

Michel Barnier has sent a message to Boris Johnson
Credit: 
PA

Speaking in the European Parliament, the EU’s chief negotiator said that Brussels prepared to work “day and night” to come up with a new agreement which could win the backing of MPs.

But he insisted that time was running out for a deal to be struck ahead of the 31 October Brexit deadline.

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Downing Street sources have insisted that the EU has been shown the Government's alternatives to the Northern Ireland backstop, which the Prime Minister has said must be scrapped for a deal to be done.

Mr Barnier told MEPs: “Almost three years after the UK referendum, I don’t think we should be spending time pretending to negotiate.

“I think we need to move forward with determination.”

He added: “If the UK leaves without a deal, I would recall that these questions don’t just disappear.

“They have been regulated in the withdrawal agreement, they have been covered – but they still remain. Whether we’re talking about the peace in Ireland, citizens’ rights, budgetary issues, they would all need to be settled.”

The UK government has insisted a “landing zone” for a deal is in sight, but will leave on 31 October regardless of whether an agreement is in place.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker - who held talks in Luxembourg with Mr Johnson earlier this week - also told MEPs: “I said to Prime Minister Johnson that I have no emotional attachment to the backstop, but I stand by the objectives it’s designed to achieve.

“I called on the PM to come forward with operational proposals in writing for practical steps which would allow us to achieve those objectives.”