Boris Johnson and his Cabinet meet today to discuss the hostile reaction from Dublin and Brussels to his new Brexit blueprint which includes scrapping the Irish backstop.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and the top officials from the EU’s Commission and Parliament have all rejected the Prime Minister’s proposals, which he claims are a final offer.
Mr Johnson is also facing pressure from opposition parties at Westminster to make a Commons statement on his proposals, instead of sending Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay to face MPs, as planned.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed Mr Johnson’s proposals were worse than those of Theresa May and former Tory deputy Premier Lord Heseltine claimed “millions of Tories” were voting Lib Dem because of Brexit.
In a phone call with Mr Johnson, Mr Varadkar told the prime minister his proposals “do not fully meet the agreed objectives” of the Northern Ireland backstop.
And in Brussels, after a meeting of senior EU officials and MEPs, Guy Verhofstadt, who chairs the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group, said they were “absolutely not positive” about Mr Johnson’s plan.
“It doesn’t provide the necessary safeguards for Ireland,” he said.
After he also spoke to Mr Johnson by phone, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed the proposals for “full regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the EU.
“However, the president also noted that there are still some problematic points that will need further work in the coming days, notably with regards to the governance of the backstop,” a statement said.
“The delicate balance struck by the Good Friday agreement must be preserved.”
Earlier, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters: “There is progress. But to be frank, a lot of work still needs to be done to reach, to fulfil, the three objectives of the backstop – no border, all-Ireland economy, and protecting the single market.
“That means protecting the consumer, the citizens, and the businesses inside the single market, the 27 member states.
“So now we will continue to work, to work to reach a deal. The no-deal will never be the choice of the EU. Never. So we will continue to reach a deal and to work with the UK team.”
At Westminster, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Johnson’s plan was worse than the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May and said he appeared to be intent on a no-deal break with the EU.
“It’s worse than Theresa May’s deal,” he said. “Everything to do with his behaviour and his language over the past few weeks has been about getting a no-deal Brexit,” said Mr Corbyn.
“I’m sure he knows full well that what he’s put forward is unlikely to be approved.”
Lord Heseltine, speaking in a House of Lords debate, claimed Mr Johnson’s Tory conference speech showed he was “without any shadow of doubt the best music hall turn in politics”.
He added: “But also it revealed very clearly what the strategy is and what is has been since day one of his premiership.
“It is to combine an agenda of right-wing hardline politics with Brexit to try and get it through a general election campaign by attracting back Nigel Farage’s supporters.
“It is as blindingly as obvious as that.”
Lord Heseltine said the main problem for the Conservatives was not Jeremy Corbyn, but the Tories themselves given the internal party divisions.
He added: “There are millions of Conservatives who are now voting for the Liberal Democrats because they will not swallow the line that is peddled about Brexit.”
Criticising the position taken by Brexiteers, he said: “The idea that President Trump is going to do a soft-option for Britain’s trade in a pre-election period in America is a delusion of the most naive sort.
“The idea that the Conservative government is risking the future of the United Kingdom itself on a dogma which was driven by extreme populism is to me unbelievable.”
Pressing for a second referendum, Lord Heseltine said: “We need to go back to the people for an endorsement of the decision and much better its rejection.”
Source : Sky News : http://news.sky.com/story/cabinet-meets-to-discuss-new-brexit-proposals-after-a-lukewarm-response-from-the-eu-11825956
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