EU tells UK to stop 'stupid' Brexit blame game
The European Union has accused Britain of playing a "stupid blame game" over Brexit after a Downing Street source said a deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands.
With just 23 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the bloc, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain and both London and Brussels are positioning themselves to avoid blame for a delay or a disorderly no-deal Brexit.
In a sign that Johnson's last-ditch proposals to bridge the impasse have failed, a Downing Street source said Merkel and Johnson spoke on Tuesday morning and she made clear that a deal was "overwhelmingly unlikely".
The Downing Street source said if Merkel's position on Northern Ireland remaining in the EU's customs union was the bloc's position, then a deal was impossible.
"If this represents a new established position then it means a deal is essentially impossible not just now but ever," the Downing Street source said. A spokesman for the German chancellor confirmed the call had taken place but declined to comment further.
The EU was scathing: "Boris Johnson, what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game," European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter.
"At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?"
Merkel said that for a deal, Northern Ireland would have to stay in the EU's customs union and full alignment with the EU forever, the Downing Street source said.
The leader of the small Northern Irish party that supports Johnson's government accused the EU and Ireland of trying to trap the British territory in a permanent customs union.
The opposition said Johnson was trying to apportion blame for the failure of the negotiating process.
"This is yet another cynical attempt by No.10 to sabotage the negotiations," said Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the Labour Party, adding the British parliament needed to unite to stop him.
"Boris Johnson will never take responsibility for his own failure to put forward a credible deal. His strategy from day one has been for a no-deal Brexit."
A separate Downing Street source told Reuters that unless the European Union compromises and did a Brexit deal shortly, the United Kingdom would leave without a deal.
Johnson has consistently said the UK will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, though a law passed by parliament demands he write a letter to the EU asking for a delay if he cannot strike an exit deal by October 19.
He has said he would abide by the law but Britain would leave the EU by the end of the month, without explaining that contradiction.
He has also repeatedly demanded an election but parliament has refused to grant one.
© AAP 2019