Johnson to meet European leaders to push Brexit deal

Clay Curtis
September 21, 2019

He is scheduled to holds talks with Donald Tusk, the European council president at the United Nations general assembly (UNGA), as well as having joint discussions with Emmanuel Macron of France and Germany's Angela Merkel, and a meeting with Ireland's Leo Varadkar.

The UK had put forward a "first set of concepts, principles and ideas", Brussels said.

Following the meeting with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart Barclay, the European Commission in a statement said that sides have agreed that technical talks will continue.

Their meeting came after Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy prime minister played down the prospect of an imminent Brexit breakthrough, pointing to a "wide gap" between Mr Johnson's position and that of the European Union.

The commission's emphasis on the need for any alternative plan to fully replicate the backstop goes against Barclay's suggestion in a speech in Madrid on Thursday that such a solution was impossible. Non-papers are documents intended for discussion, rather than formal proposals.

Johnson's partner, Carrie Symonds, will also be at the conference, but not in any official No 10 capacity - she is attending as part of her work with an environmental charity.

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He accused the commission of "seeking a purist, identical result" and suggested the deadline for working out a backstop alternative could be pushed back to December 2020.

Mr Barclay said following Friday's talks in Brussels: "There's a common goal both in Dublin, in London and here in Brussels to see a deal over the line".

"We remain willing and open to examine any such proposals that meet all the objectives of the backstop".

Ireland's deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said: "There's still a big gap between what the British government has been suggesting that they're looking for and what Ireland and the European Union need in terms of getting a deal, and in order to close that gap we need to get credible proposals from the British government which we simply haven't received yet".

The Cabinet minister said "of course we will abide by the law" but he added "we will look at it closely and test exactly where we are" - the latest sign that the Government is examining ways around its measures.

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