Published On: Thu, Jun 20th, 2019

EU kills off Boris Brexit plan as Varadkar says leaders have ‘lost patience with UK’ | UK | News

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The EU chiefs rounded on the Tory leadership hopeful’s latest suggestion as they arrived in Brussels for a crunch summit. Mr Johnson has argued Britain can take the “good bits” from Theresa May’s hated deal in order to implement a transition period to finalise alternative arrangements to the Northern Irish backstop. He wants to delay the end of the current transition – which is due to end in December 31, 2020 – until December 2021.

But numerous heads of government have declined to discuss the plan if the former foreign secretary becomes Britain’s next prime minister.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar told reporters: “The withdrawal agreement is not going to be reopened but we are willing to consider amendments to the joint political declaration.

“And if there is no withdrawal agreement then there is no transition period.

“There’s no withdrawal agreement without a backstop and there’s no implementation period without a withdrawal agreement.”

Dutch leader Mark Rutte said: “As Boris Johnson would say, ‘Brexit is Brexit’. I would say hard Brexit is a hard Brexit, I don’t see how you can sweeten it.”

The two influential Brussels figures, however, handed Mr Johnson a welcome boost as they insisted it would be very hard to delay Brexit beyond October 31.

Leadership rivals Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt have both suggested they would be willing to ask the EU for an extension if they are close to reaching an agreement with Brussels.

The EU leaders argued that they would reject attempts to extend the EU’s Article 50 exit clause for further attempts to renegotiate the current 585-page divorce deal, which Brussels maintains is off-limits.

Mr Varadkar said: “There’s very much a strong view across the EU that there shouldn’t be any more extensions.

“While I have endless patience some of my colleagues have lost patience quite frankly with the UK and there’s enormous hostility to any further extension.

“I think an extension could really only happen if it were to facilitate something like a general election in the UK or perhaps even something like a second referendum if they decided to have one.

“What won’t be entertained is an extension for further negotiations or further indicative votes the time for that has long since passed.”

The Irish prime minister also refused to engage in bilateral talks to find a backstop fix with the next prime minister.

Mr Varadkar insisted he would not break “European unity”, adding: “Negotiations can only happen between the UK and the EU.

“We are not going to allow negotiations to move to an intergovernmental level in any way.”

Mr Rutte told the BBC that failure to reach an agreement by October 31, when Britain is scheduled to quit the EU, would likely result in a no-deal Brexit.

The Dutch leader: “If nothing is happening If it would mean after October 31 again going through the rounds, these traditional talks, ‘Can we make changes?’ ‘No we can’t because you have to change your red lines,’ then there is no point in having an extension.

“When a new prime minister comes in and asks for an extension we have to learn what his plan will be in terms of new elections, new referendum, making changes to the red lines the UK is currently holding… if there is no change on all those positions I cannot see why it makes any sense to negotiate longer.”

The EU’s hardline stance will also likely prevent any fresh delay in order for the House of Commons to hold indicative votes on potential ways forward.

EU27 leaders will receive an “update” on Brexit from Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker tomorrow morning.

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