The European Union have expressed “serious doubts” about Boris Johnson’s plan to secure a Brexit deal as a leaked memo tells Tory MPs to blame the EU if it fails.
EU Council president Donald Tusk told the UK prime minister that Brussels is “still unconvinced” by his new proposals, while Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator described them as “nearly impossible”.
“We scrutinised the proposals that have been put forward by the UK Government and we are very sceptical about it because again it is repackaging old ideas that have already been discussed in the past,” said Verhofstadt.
Blame the EU
Johnson told MPs in the Commons that the compromises within the plan were “a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm” just hours after a leaked memo emerged suggesting Conservative MPs have been told to blame the EU if they block the deal.
The leaked memo, part published by Buzzfeed, told Tory MPs that if the EU kept its position it effectively meant Northern Ireland would never be allowed to leave the Customs Union.
As such it would be “impossible to negotiate any deal” because “there will be checks according to the Commission’s own logic.”
The memo continues: “This will be seen by everybody as a crazy policy. We have offered a compromise to avoid this situation.”
PM’s plan ‘falls short’
The PA quoted a senior Conservative who described the Buzzfeed post as a “very deliberate and partial leak”.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Johnson’s plan for a custom border between Ireland and Northern Ireland with regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland – the so-called “two borders for four years” plan – “falls short in a number of aspects”.
The plan would give the Stormont Assembly – which has not sat for three years – a vote to continue or end the arrangement every four years.
Varadkar said he could not how understand how the plan could work without the need for checkpoints, while his deputy, Simon Coveney said: “We cannot support any proposal that suggests one party or indeed a minority in Northern Ireland make the decisions for the majority. That would not be consistent with the Good Friday Agreement and it is not something we could possibly support as part of a final deal.”
He added: “If that is the final proposal, there will be no deal.”
‘Deliberately designed to fail’
The PMs proposals have been described as “chaotic” and “delusional” in the Tory supporting Telegraph newspaper who questioned if it is “deliberately designed to fail?”
Verhofstadt, referring to the leaked memo in a BBC radio interview, said: “We have serious doubts about the seriousness of these proposals because today a memo was leaked, a memo sent by Downing Street to Tory MPs to immediately blame the European Union.”
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, when asked about the memo, said: “We don’t comment on leaks.”