Brexit LIVE: Talks with EU ‘dead’ after explosive Merkel call and Tusk rages at ‘games’

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A BREXIT deal between the UK and European Union is “essentially impossible, not just now but for ever” following an explosive phone call between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel this morning.

  • Brexit: Lib Dem policy is ‘undemocratic’ says Johnson supporter

The Prime Minister and German Chancellor spoke on the telephone earlier this morning, with Ms Merkel saying there could only be a deal if Northern Ireland stays in the customs union but if not, then a deal is “overwhelmingly unlikely”. A Downing Street source said: “The call with Merkel showed the EU has adopted a new position. She made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely and she thinks the EU has a veto on us leaving the customs union.

“Merkel said that if Germany wanted to leave the EU they could do it no problem but the UK cannot leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in the customs union and in full alignment forever.

“She said that Ireland is the government’s special problem and Ireland must at least have a veto on Northern Ireland leaving.

“Merkel said that the Prime Minister should tell northern Ireland that it must stay in full alignment forever, but that even this would not eliminate customs issues.

“It was a very useful clarifying moment in al sorts of ways. If this represents a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible, not just now but for ever.

brexit boris johnson angela merkel

Brexit latest: Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel have held an explosive phone call

“It also made clear that they are willing to torpedo the good Friday Agreement.”

BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted the Number 10 source said Mr Johnson stressed to Ms Merkel the UK had put forward a reasonable new deal, but there had been no desire from the EU to engage.

She added the source said “talks in Brussels are close to breaking down, despite the fact the UK has moved a long way”.

brexit boris johnson

Brexit latest: Boris Johnson has repeatedly warned the UK will leave the EU on October 31

2.02pm update: Government urged to ‘push a lot harder to give businesses answers’ over no deal Brexit

British Chambers of Commerce Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “It’s good that government has got its shoulder to the wheel, but it’s going to have to push a lot harder to give businesses answers to the many complex and detailed questions they have in order to trade successfully in the event of an unwanted no-deal exit.

“Business concern about an unwanted no-deal exit is rising, particularly given developments over recent days.

“Both sides need to redouble their commitment and do everything in their power to avoid this in the short time we have left – it’s in all our interests.”

1.32pm update: Ireland ‘ready to act’ in event of no deal Brexit – Finance Minister

Opening his speech on the 2020 budget, Paschal Donohoe said: “This year we have eliminated our deficit and projected a surplus of two percent of national income.

“If the UK leaves the EU with an agreement we will continue to build on this surplus.

“In the event of no-deal we will intervene in a sustained and meaningful way to support jobs and our economy.

“We stand ready to act.”

He added: “The rate at which we create new jobs may be slower which may influence tax we collect, while currently low, the cost of borrowing can shift rapidly, so the Government is clear about the challenges posed by Brexit, it’s why we’ve been preparing since before the referendum in 2016.”

1.29pm update: Boris Johnson ‘confident’ UK is prepared for no deal Brexit

The Prime Minister has declared he can “confidently” say the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on October 31.

A ‘Brexit no deal readiness report’ has been published by the Government, which includes details of attempts to ensure citizens and businesses are ready for Brexit at the end of the month.

It reiterates that the Government would prefer to leave the EU with a deal and says it “will work to the final hour to achieve one”.

In a foreword, Mr Johnson said: “That is why, when I became Prime Minister, I gave the order that preparing for no-deal is the central task of all officials, and why I asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – my friend and colleague Michael Gove – to take on one of the most important jobs in government: to prepare the UK for a no-deal Brexit.

“Over the last 76 days, the Chancellor has thrown himself into this role with his trademark enthusiasm.

“Thanks to his hard work, and the hard work of many other Cabinet colleagues and thousands of civil servants, we have made huge strides in preparedness, and can now confidently say that the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on 31st October.”

1.19pm update: DUP MP lashes out at Merkel following Johnson phone call

Emma Little-Pengelly tweeted: “Beyond angry at this disgraceful position by Merkel. Clear now (as we thought) that the agenda throughout was to sever NI from UK economy, kept in the EU single market & customs union forever.

“Undoubtedly breaches both the letter and spirit of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”

1.15pm update: UK has not seen compromise from EU on Brexit deal – Johnson’s spokesman

Britain has yet to see a compromise from the EU in Brexit talks, Boris Johnson’s spokesman has said.

The spokesman said the Prime minister told his top team of ministers the UK still wants a deal and technical talks between the two sides are still ongoing.

He said: “The PM does want a deal, but if we are to achieve that, it is going to require some compromise from the EU, and that is not something that we have seen so far.”

1pm update: Ireland still open to ‘fair’ Brexit deal

Ireland’s Foreign Minister has said European Council President Donald Tusk was reflecting EU-wide frustration when he accused Britain of playing a “stupid blame game” over Brexit.

Simon Coveney said on Twitter that Mr Tusk “reflects the frustration across EU and the enormity of what’s at stake for us all”.

He added: ”We remain open to finalise a fair Brexit deal but need a UK Government willing to work with EU to get it done.”

12.35pm update: DUP leader Foster accuses EU and Ireland of trying to trap British territory in permanent customs union

Arlene Foster issued a statement after reports of a call between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel.

The German Chancellor is reported to have told the Prime Minister a Brexit deal was “overwhelmingly unlikely” unless Britain left Northern Ireland in the customs union, a Downing Street source claimed.

The DUP leader said: “The Prime Minister’s proposals have flushed out Dublin’s real intention to trap Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union forever.

“We will not accept any such ultimatum or outcome.”

12.15pm update: Labour hits out at Boris Johnson over Brexit

“This is yet another cynical attempt by Number 10 to sabotage the negotiations.

“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.

“It is now more important than ever that Parliament unites to prevent this reckless Government crashing us out of the EU at the end of the month.”

Labour MP Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit Select Committee, tweeted: “I am afraid that this just demonstrates what a chaotic mess the Government has got itself into.

“Threats about security co-operation cannot be used as some kind of Brexit bargaining chip.”

brexit arlene foster

Brexit latest: Arlene Foster accused Dublin of wanting to trap Northern Ireland in the customs union forever

11:57am update: Brexiteer Tory MP Steve Baker fired back at Donald Tusk.

He said: “We’d like a deal. We’d like to end up in a relationship of the character the EU offered us last year.

“For the whole UK. But the EU has been encouraged by our weak and incompetent Parliament to think Northern Ireland is the price. That’s wrong. Boris is right to defend our Union.”

11:42am update: Donald Tusk reacted angrily to the Downing Street source and warned Boris Johnson the “future of Europe” was at stake

He tweeted Boris Johnson and said: “Boris Johnson, what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game.

“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?”

11:33am update: Angela Merkel has not released a statement about her call with Boris Johnson.

The European Commission says the German Chancellor has not confirmed the reported comments, it would be up to her and the German government to brief on the content of the Boris Johnson call.

11:05am update: Nigel Farage reacts to the explosive phone call between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel

The Brexit Party leader reacted to claims it is essentially “impossible” to ever complete a Brexit deal. He tweeted: “The EU was never going to negotiate in good faith. We simply have to leave with a clean break.”

10.52am update: Boris Johnson will ‘sabotage the functioning of the EU’ if Brussels delays

Boris Johnson will “sabotage the functioning of the EU” if Brussels delays Brexit in a move that could have “significant” diplomatic repercussions that could see “bad blood between the UK and EU last for a decade” in an explosive move from Downing Street.

The summary of the extraordinary press briefing has been tweeted by ITV Political Editor Robert Peston, who warned: “If the EU approves a delay, Boris Johnson will do his damnedest to sabotage the functioning of the EU.”

The briefing warned countries opposing a delay to Brexit beyond October 31 “will go to the front of the queue for future cooperation” while those who back a delay “will go to the bottom of the queue”.

It added: “This source also made clear the defence and security cooperation will inevitably be affected if the EU tries to keep Britain against the will of its government”.

The briefing says: “When they say ‘so what is the point of a delay?’, we will say ‘This is not our delay, the Government is not asking for a delay – Parliament is sending you a letter and Parliament is asking for a delay but official Government policy remains that delay is an atrocious idea that everyone should dismiss.

“Any delay will in effect be negotiated between you, Parliament and the courts – we will wash our hands of it, we won’t engage in further talks, we obviously won’t be given any undertakings about cooperative behaviour, everything to do with ‘duty of sincere cooperation’ will be in the toilet, we will focus on winning the election on a manifesto of immediately revoking the entire EU legal order without further talks, and then we will leave.

“Those who supported delay will face the inevitable consequences of being seen to interfere in domestic politics in a deeply unpopular way by colluding with a Parliament that is as popular as the clap.

“Those who pushed the Benn Act intended to sabotage a deal and they’ve probably succeeded, so the main effect of it will probably be to help us win an election by uniting this leave vote and then a no deal Brexit.

“History is full of such ironies and tragedies.”

10.08am update: Pound falls to three-week low as no deal Brexit worries increase

Sterling has fallen to a three-week low against the euro as concerns intensify Britain will leave the EU without a deal on October 31.

The pound has dropped 0.3 percent to 89.55 pence – the lowest since September 13, while the currency has failed to a six-day low against the US dollar to $1.2276.

A report from political magazine The Spectator claimed the Government is preparing for Brexit negotiations to end this week.

But it claimed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar does not want to talk, adding French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were not likely to push the EU to discuss Britain’s offer unless Ireland is ready to negotiate.

brexit emmanuel macron

Brexit latest: Emmanuel Macron has warned the basics of a deal need to be in place by Friday

10am update: William Hague explains the ‘only way’ Boris Johnson can strike Brexit deal with EU

William Hague has vowed he has a “simple solution” to break the Brexit impasse and ensure Britain unshackles itself from the EU before the Halloween deadline.

The former Conservative Party leader warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the DUP – the party propping up the Tories – that without securing a deal they will look back on this pivotal week and realise they “needed a deal more than they ever knew”.

As Mr Johnson enters his final week of diplomacy to secure a Brexit agreement, Mr Hague said negotiations had been “bogged down and blocked by complexity” – but a simple solution would lead to a breakthrough.

Mr Hague, once a staunch Remainer, said there “just one” option available to break the impasse and that was to take former Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with a “time limit on the Irish backstop”.

9.35am update: UK preparing for collapse in Brexit talks with the EU

The Government is getting itself ready for a breakdown in Brexit talks with the EU over Brexit this week, according to 10 Downing Street.

A Government official told the BBC that Brussels had not shown a desire to “budge one centimetre” since Boris Johnson sent them new proposals last week.

They said an agreement was not completely ruled out, said the PM’s plans were “the only way out”.

9.26am update: Government to publish new no deal Brexit document today

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said a new Brexit readiness document will be published later today, subject to House of Commons Speaker John Bercow approving a statement by Michael Gove.

The no deal document will detail preparations which have been made in advance of the proposed Brexit date of October 31.

It is aimed at providing more information on no deal planning, and to satisfy an appetite in Parliament for more information.

Boris Johnson’s spokesman said it should not be viewed as a shift towards a no-deal scenario, adding: “The publication is long planned and is the result of extensive work.

“Talks with the EU are ongoing and it remains our strong desire to leave with a deal.”

brexit calendar

Brexit latest: It is a crucial week in negotiations between the UK and EU

9.03am update: ‘Hypocrite’ Thornberry lambasted after Boris grilling on BBC Newsnight

Emily Thornberry was lambasted over comments about Boris Johnson’s “childish” Government during an interview on BBC’s Newsnight.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary was criticised on Twitter following her condemnation of Boris Johnson’s Government, of which she said was “like dealing with children”.

Ms Thornberry was talking about the Government’s apparent unwillingness to budge on the Benn Act, which forces the Prime Minister to write a letter to the EU asking for a delay to Brexit past October 31 if a deal is not reached and passed by Parliament.

She said: “It’s like dealing with children; it is quite clear that there has been a law passed and the law says they must apply for a delay if they cannot get a deal.

“And, if they cannot get Parliament to agree to that deal, they go past October 31.

“It is perfectly clear, the Benn Act is as clear as possible, we’ve even got in that act the letter that Boris Johnson has to write and put his name on the bottom, but we’re dealing with children.”

Ms Thornberry added: “It’s quite clear what the law is.”

But her words were met with scorn as scores of Twitter users were quick to call out what they saw as clear hypocrisy.

8.50am update: UK issues another no deal Brexit warning to EU

Britain will leave the European Union without a Brexit deal unless Brussels compromises on an agreement shortly.

A senior Downing Street source told Reuters: “If the EU doesn’t do a deal shortly, then we leave without a deal.

“We are leaving the European Union.”

8.46am update: Britain says 88 percent of imports will not face tariffs in no deal Brexit

The UK has published a revised temporary tariff guide that will come into force if it leaves the EU without a deal, saying 88 percent of total imports by value would be eligible for tariff free access.

The revised plan, which lowers tariffs on trucks and applies tariffs to additional bioethanol and some clothing products, will last for up to 12 months and is designed to keep prices down for consumers while protecting the fortunes of domestic producers.

A temporary tariff regime was first published in March prior to the original Brexit deadline.

brexit leo varadkar

Brexit latest: Leo Varadkar has warned of the impact a no deal departure will have on the Irish economy

Brexit: Memo suggests UK is heading towards no-deal says expert

8.40am update: Ireland to announce no deal Brexit budget for 2020

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will detail how he will keep firms afloat and allow the state’s finances to return to deficit if Britain leaves the EU without an agreement in place.

The Irish Government has warned economic growth could almost flatline next year, threatening 80,000 jobs in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The focus of Mr Donohoe’s speech will be how far the Government’s Brexit package meets the demands if arms as set out by Ireland’s main business lobby, which is calling for support for workers who lose their jobs, an enterprise stabilisation fund for firms, and further cashflow and export

diversification assistance.

Irish Business and Employers Confederation’s (IBEC) chief economist Gerard Brady said: “A ‘no-deal’ exit would deliver a major shock to the rural

economy. Those most vulnerable to job losses are already living in areas with fewer opportunities, a lack of other viable employment and lower incomes.

“Decisive and far-reaching government intervention would be required to protect jobs and support vulnerable, but viable, firms from day one.”

8.25am update: Government debt set to soar to levels not seen since 1960s in event of no deal Brexit

The Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank warned following last month’s spending review, Government borrowing was on course to top £50 billion next year.

This is more than double the figure forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility in March.

But even in the event of a “relatively benign” no-deal Brexit, the think tank warned this could rise to almost £100 billion – while debt would climb to almost 90 percent of national income for the first time since the mid 1960s.

The IFS also warned in those circumstances, next year’s “mini boom” in public spending will be followed by another “bust” as ministers struggle to get public finances under control.

8.19am update: Scottish firms hiring more temporary staff due to Brexit uncertainty

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s ‘Report on Jobs’ found the decline of permanent placements continued for a third successive month in September, with the number of temporary placements experiencing a rise.

The report is compiled by asking 100 companies if they feel certain parts of the jobs market have changed in the past month.

The researchers collate each answer into an index number between zero and 100, with 50 meaning no change, above 50 meaning an upward shift and below 50 meaning a downward trend over the previous month.

For the number of permanent placements, the number has fallen from 48.8 in August to 47.4 last month.

The drop in permanent work was the sharpest monthly decline since January 2017.

A number of panellists asked for their input said uncertainty – particularly around Brexit – had impacted on hiring decisions.

8.02am update: Cameron warns Johnson he must make more compromises on Brexit deal

The current Prime Minister has said his blueprint to resolve the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop represents a “fair and reasonable compromise”.

But EU leaders are so far refusing to enter into further talks on the plan.

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned the basics of a deal need to be on place by Friday if one is going to be agreed at an EU summit in Brussels next week.

Speaking to The Times editor John Witherow at an event to promote his memoirs, Mr Cameron told the audience t the Barbican Centre in London: “The answer I suspect is now compromise on both sides.

“Boris is compromising and I suspect may have to move a bit more. And the EU should compromise too.”

Updated: October 8, 2019 — 3:29 pm

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