Keir Starmer: Labour will prevent no-deal Brexit, 'whatever it takes'

13 Octobre, 2019, 02:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Cheshire yesterday

In a meeting with envoys of the bloc's remaining 27 countries on Friday, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, suggested that Johnson is softening his stance on both customs and Stormont's consent. "Whatever it takes, we will prevent a no-deal Brexit".

European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday he could see the talks in Brussels going through the weekend, ahead of the EU summit, which starts Thursday.

Without a deal, Mr Johnson will face demands from opposition parties to comply with the so-called Benn Act which would require him to request a three-month Brexit delay if there is no agreement by October 19.

After talks came close to hitting the buffers, the prime minister managed to win some confidence that he can secure an agreement after meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Of course, nothing has been confirmed yet- and all optimism should be cautious, because if Mr Johnson did indeed make such a huge concession, it's likely that Mr Varadkar also had to do so.

With parliament set to sit in a special emergency Saturday session at the end of the week, Mr Starmer said it appeared any agreement Mr Johnson was able to negotiate would be "even worse" than Theresa May's rejected deal. "That kind of deal can never be one Labour supports", he said.

This suggests that the European Union still has reservations about the chances of getting a deal done, and that member states are unwilling to outsource the process entirely to Barnier and his team.

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It followed talks on Friday morning between Michel Barnier, the EU's top negotiator, and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.

Mr Barnier compared the UK's departure from the European Union to climbing a mountain, stressing the need for "determination and patience".

Reports from Brussels claim the Prime Minister is bringing back a proposal first put forward by Theresa May for a customs partnership between the United Kingdom and the bloc.

The meeting came one day after talks between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, and just six days before the European Union summit that is seen as the key date in efforts to find a deal before a chaotic divorce on 31 October.

With the British Parliament and government both rejecting the withdrawal treaty negotiated by Theresa May, and the European Union rejecting a rehash of the treaty with some alternative arrangements for the customs border between EU member-state the Republic of Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland put forward by Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom is now headed for a clean break with the bloc - or, if anti-Brexit MPs have their way, yet another Brexit delay.

Varadkar's words Thursday indicated that Johnson might have shifted his red lines and could now be willing to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.

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