EU rejects weekend talks on Britain’s Brexit proposals: Brexit News for Saturday 5 October

EU rejects weekend talks on Britain’s Brexit proposals: Brexit News for Saturday 5 October
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EU rejects weekend talks on Britain’s Brexit proposals…

The European Union rejected a government request yesterday to allow Brexit talks to run through the weekend as Michel Barnier, the lead Brussels negotiator, said the British proposals did not provide a basis for a deal. In a snub to David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, the EU turned down his plea to continue working before next week’s deadline to find an agreement. “If we held talks at the weekend it would look like these were proper negotiations,” an EU diplomat said. “We’re still a long way from that. We need to work out quickly whether there is the opportunity to close that gap.” Another EU source said: “We agree we should leave no stone unturned, but there is nothing useful that could be done this weekend.”  – The Times (£)

  • UK may ‘clarify’ new offer after EU urged ‘fundamental changes’ – BBC News
  • EU chiefs snub Boris Johnson’s plans and claim a deal is a long way off – The Sun

…as the Dutch PM says the new proposals are a basis for discussion ‘at best’…

Britain’s new Brexit proposals “at best” could form a basis for further discussions, but many questions still remain, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. “These proposals raise many questions, and we will have to discuss them”, Rutte said. “We can’t simply say ‘yes’ to them.” – Reuters

…leaving Boris Johnson to pin his hopes on Hungary vetoing a Brexit extension…

Boris Johnson hopes Hungary will veto a Brexit extension as the Government said in court that he would comply with the law and request one… On Friday night a Cabinet minister told The Daily Telegraph a veto was now the “only way to stop the effects of the Benn Act”. A Government source said Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, was the “most sympathetic [EU leader] to our cause.” However, few in Brussels suggested that Hungary would break ranks with the other member states due to fears of reprisal. While Mr Orbán’s governing party, Fidesz, has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over its domestic agenda, Hungary remains one of the biggest net recipients of EU funding. – Telegraph (£)

…as Downing Street insists there will be no delay…

A senior Downing Street source said: “The government will comply with the Benn Act, which only imposes a very specific narrow duty concerning Parliament’s letter requesting a delay – drafted by an unknown subset of MPs and pro-EU campaigners – and which can be interpreted in different ways. “But the government is not prevented by the Act from doing other things that cause no delay, including other communications, private and public. “People will have to wait to see how this is reconciled. The government is making its true position on delay known privately in Europe and this will become public soon.” Any extension to the Article 50 process – the mechanism taking the UK out of the EU – would have to be agreed by all 27 other EU leaders. Mr Johnson has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for a delay. In a tweet on Friday afternoon, he said: “New deal or no deal – but no delay.” – BBC News

  • If Brussels doesn’t back down then it’s no deal, insists defiant Dominic Cummings – The Times (£)
  • A Brexit extension could be just what Boris Johnson wants – Lewis Goodall for Sky News

…after court documents suggest the Prime Minister will seek an extension

The prime minister has contradicted court documents submitted by his own government that say the UK will seek a Brexit extension from the EU if no withdrawal deal is reached. At Scotland’s highest court papers were read out in which Boris Johnson accepted he must send a letter requesting a Brexit delay if there is no deal in place by 19 October.  – Sky News

Germany says any Brexit deal must prevent a hard Irish border…

Germany welcomes Britain’s latest Brexit proposals and remains of the view that any deal must protect the European Union’s internal market and avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a German government spokesman said on Friday. “For us, it remains the case that a settlement must secure the safeguarding of the internal market, a settlement must be operable, and it must avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.  – Reuters

…but whilst Ireland says the UK offer is ‘a step forward’…

The UK’s latest Brexit proposals are a “step forward” but further change is needed to avoid customs checks, the Irish deputy prime minister has said. Simon Coveney said he welcomed parts of the plan but added he was “not going to pretend we have a solution” as yet. He said Mr Johnson “has accepted” for the first time that there must be “full regulatory alignment for all goods” crossing the Irish border. He added Ireland still had to “assume the worst” and prepare for no deal.- BBC News

  • Ireland would consider Brexit extension if UK sought one  – Reuters 
  • Irish foreign minister says new Brexit deal can be done – Reuters

…the Irish PM says they’ll need a good reason for a Brexit delay

Ireland would agree to a UK request for a Brexit extension but “only for a good reason”, Leo Varadkar said. The taoiseach was responding to reports that court documents have said Boris Johnson agreed to send a letter to the European Union asking for a delay if no deal is agreed by October 19. The statement, included in government papers submitted to a Scottish court, goes against the British prime minister’s claim that the UK would leave the EU on October 31 “do or die”. He has also previously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for an extension. In Denmark yesterday Mr Varadkar said: “I’ve always said that Brexit doesn’t end with the UK leaving, it’s just the next phase of negotiations, but if the UK were to request and extension, we would consider it; most EU countries would only consider it for good reason, but an extension would be better than no deal.” – The Times (£)

Supreme Court Judge criticised after attacking Boris Johnson

Baroness Hale has been criticised by cabinet ministers for “exercising poor judgment” after she opened a speech with the words: “Let’s hear it for the girly swots”, standing in front of a presentation entitled: “Spider woman takes down Hulk: Viewers transfixed by judge’s brooch as ruling crushed PM” . The President of the Supreme Court, who last month declared the Prime Minister’s prorogation of parliament “unlawful” while wearing a spider brooch, was speaking at the Association of State Girls’ Schools (ASGS) conference in Westminster on Friday when she made the comment. Saying her number one piece of advice to young women is: “Don’t let the bastards get you down!” she used the girly swots phrase in an apparent reference to an insult Boris Johnson used about former prime minister David Cameron in a leaked Cabinet paper. – Telegraph (£)

Northern Ireland Secretary defends plan to give Stormont a veto

Boris Johnson’s proposal would give the NI Assembly a review mechanism on whether NI should continue to apply EU legislation on agriculture and food safety standards. The DUP has welcomed the idea. However, other NI political parties have dismissed it as potentially being used as a veto. Mr Smith said the government would uphold the Good Friday Agreement and ensure consent on all sides. “I’m sure, in the Brexit deal that’s concluded, that the Good Friday Agreement is respected at all its levels,” said Mr Smith. He said it would be up to Brexit negotiators as to how the final shape of a deal looked. – BBC News

Isabel Hardman: Is Boris really going to ask for a Brexit extension?

Boris Johnson will seek an extension to Article 50 if there is no Brexit deal by 19 October, documents read out in court today have revealed. This contradicts the Prime Minister’s assertion that he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than delay Britain leaving to after the current deadline of 31 October. So what’s going on? The revelation comes in the government’s written case for a hearing on whether the Prime Minister will be in contempt of court if he doesn’t send the letter to the European Union asking for the extension which he is mandated to do by the Benn Act.- Isabel Hardman for The Spectator

Stephen Booth: No deal may be the only way of honouring the Brexit vote – and it doesn’t need to be a disaster

The short-term disruption resulting from a no-deal Brexit would be material but, for an economy as big and as adaptable as that of the UK, it would be manageable. Brexiteers who say no deal would not cause any problems are wrong – but so are Remainers who claim that it would be an unmitigated disaster. The crucial point is that the Government is not powerless in a no deal scenario. In a new report today, Open Europe has outlined how the right set of responses could address many of the issues that would arise under no deal. – Stephen Booth for the Telegraph (£)

> Dominic Walsh on BrexitCentral today: While No Deal may not be optimal, it’s a Brexit outcome the Government can manage

James Forsyth: EU won’t engage fully in search for a Brexit deal until Boris Johnson wins an election

All the signs are that Boris Johnson isn’t going to get a Brexit deal by the end of this month. His new Brexit proposal is a big move, but it still isn’t enough for the EU and Dublin. They still object to anything that leads to checks on the island of Ireland, as the UK scheme would do. No10 say there is the “potential for some meetings next week”. There is, though, little optimism about what will come from them. Even the biggest optimists in Downing Street think there is only a one in four chance of getting a deal, and these odds are lengthening by the hour. There is doubt that the process will even make it into the “tunnel”, the EU’s term for intensive serious negotiations. One No10 source tells me: “We’re not going to get into the tunnel without more compromise but we’re getting to the limit of what we can do.” James Forsyth for The Sun

Brexit in Brief

  • On “Two Letters from Boris Johnson to Jean-Claude Juncker” – Robert Harneis for Briefings for Brexit
  • Here’s how the Government should meet the challenges of No Deal – David Shiels for ConservativeHome
  • An extension and an election might make matters worse for the EU – Anthony Egan for Open Europe
  • The EU wants to bind Facebook to its will again – but this time it may have gone too far – Laurence Dodds for the Telegraph (£)
  • Let’s go WTO – John Longworth for ConservativeWoman
  • Why the UK’s Brexit proposal falls short for the EU – Reuters
  • Rory Stewart to stand down as MP and quits Conservatives to run for London Mayor – Politico
  • Conservatives election preparations gather pace as new clutch of candidates is selected – ConservativeHome
  • Brexit boosting independence support, Plaid Cymru MP claims – BBC News