The British government's new exit plan from the European Union nearly collapsed on Monday. The day's talks and meetings between Britain and the eu made no progress, but instead left both sides locked in recrimination.
British prime minister Boris Johnson's only chance of saving the country's exit from the European Union is to persuade his Irish counterpart Leo varadkar to accept border arrangements with Ireland, media reports say. There is a growing tendency for the eu to agree to another extension, which could be discussed at next week's eu summit.
Johnson spoke with German chancellor Angela merkel on the phone for about 30 minutes early Monday morning. A no. 10 source, who asked not to be identified, later "briefed" several media outlets, saying Ms. Merkel had made demands that were unacceptable to the British.
In a call that "clarified" Germany's position, the source said, Ms. Merkel made clear that a renewed brexit deal, "now or later," was "certainly not likely" under Mr. Johnson's new plan for leaving the European Union earlier this month.
Merkel has proposed that the UK and Northern Ireland remain in the eu customs union after brexit and permanently follow the eu's single market rules for trade in goods. But Mr Johnson's plan calls for Northern Ireland to leave the customs union with the rest of Britain and to continue to comply with the single market only if the local council allows it.
Reuters reported that the German chancellor's spokesman confirmed that merkel had spoken to Johnson, but declined to comment further. Norbert lettgen, a senior merkel ally, argued that Germany's "brexit" position had not been updated and that a new agreement under Johnson's plan by October 31 was "not realistic from the start".
Johnson then met with the new President of the European parliament David sasoli in London. Sasoli told reporters after the meeting that no progress had been made on reaching a new agreement. Mr Johnson reiterated during the meeting that he would not apply for an extension of brexit, Mr Sasoli told sky news.
The only positive feedback Johnson received that day came from Irish prime minister Gordon varadkar. A downing street spokesman said the two men spoke for about 40 minutes and "reiterated their intention to reach a brexit agreement" and "hope to have an interview later this week." According to The Times of London, Johnson is likely to meet with varadkar on October 10, when he will make a last-ditch attempt to persuade the Irish prime minister to accept Britain's border with Ireland.
After speaking to Mr Johnson, Mr Varadkar told Irish radio and television that he would fight to the "last minute" for a brexit deal, but not at the expense of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the eu.
【 foolish blame game 】
The European Union (eu) strongly refuted the contents of a phone call between German and British leaders disclosed by British sources on Tuesday, saying that Britain intends to blame Germany for the collapse of the "brexit" negotiations.
European council President Donald tusk addressed Johnson directly via twitter, saying: "it's not about winning some stupid blame game, it's about the future of the eu and the UK and the security and interests of our people. You don't want an agreement, you don't want an extension, you don't want a withdrawal. Where are you going?"
Jean-claude juncker, President of the European commission, expressed a similar view to the French newspaper les echos, saying: "I do not accept the blame game of pointing the blame at the eu for the failure of the negotiations... The explanation should be made by the British camp."
According to Reuters, tusk's "such an abrupt response" shows that the blame game over brexit has actually begun. Britain and Europe are preparing for a "potentially messy" brexit, and neither side wants to take responsibility.
Some media questioned the authenticity of the anonymous disclosures. The guardian reported that the source was believed to be Dominic cummings, a senior adviser to the prime minister who has taken a hard line on brexit.
Detraif seif, brexit representative for merkel's Christian democratic union (cdu), said the phone calls revealed by the British media were "completely discreditable" and went against the German government's "entire formula" for brexit over the past three years, which is "for the European commission to lead negotiations." "For the German chancellor, insisting that the Northern Ireland region remain in the customs union is a complete breach of norms."
The guardian noted that the German government had previously advocated giving Britain more time to avoid a "no-deal brexit". Adam Fleming, the BBC's eu correspondent, notes that some in the eu are "suspicious" of ms merkel using phrases such as "certainly unlikely".
Discuss postponement next week
Whatever the blame, negotiations between Britain and the eu to renegotiate the brexit deal have stalled.
Irish prime minister Gordon varadkar confirmed Tuesday that a new brexit deal is unlikely to be reached during a key eu summit on Monday.
The Times reported that some eu member states have turned their attention to how to set a time limit and conditions for Johnson to delay his departure from the eu. Some British lawmakers want the eu to agree to set a deadline of next summer for Britain to hold another referendum on whether to leave the eu. But at least one influential eu member state is considering a shorter deadline to allow the eu only time to prepare for a "no deal" exit, leaving Mr Johnson unable to call an early election.
A variety of possible deadlines will be discussed at next week's eu summit, but the "natural" choice is next June, the guardian reported. Some sources believe that the eu may not play by common sense and choose a brexit deadline that will prevent the UK from holding an early election, thus forcing the British parliament to accept the brexit deal.