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Tue, 20 October 2020

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European Parliament president says there has been 'no progress' following Brexit talks with PM

European Parliament president says there has been 'no progress' following Brexit talks with PM
3 min read

Talks on a new Brexit deal are on the brink of collapse after the president of the European Parliament declared that "no progress" has been made in the negotiations

David Sissoli said the only possible outcome now was either no-deal or an extension to the 31 October Brexit deadline.

Speaking after meeting Boris Johnson in Downing Street, he said: "I came here in the confident hope of hearing proposals that could take negotiations forward. However, I must note that there has been no progress."

His downbeat assessment came just hours after Angela Merkel told the Prime Minister that his plan to replace the Irish backstop was unacceptable to the EU.

Mr Sissoli said the European Parliament, which must back any deal agreed between Brussels and the UK, had been ready to support the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May.

But he added: "As I explained to Mr Johnson, the Parliament will not agree to a deal at any price. We will not agree to a deal that undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process or compromise the integrity of our single market.

"We have examined the UK proposals to replace the original backstop and our response is that these are a long way from something to which the Parliament could agree. In addition, they are not immediately operable."

The EU chief went on: "There are two alternatives to a deal at this juncture: extension or no deal.

"I do hope a no-deal outcome can be avoided, but if not, the EU has taken the necessary measures to prepare for this outcome.

"I continue to place my faith in good sense and responsibility but among friends, duty demands that we tell each other the truth."

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister stated his preference for leaving the EU with a deal. He emphasised that the UK’s proposal represents a significant step and a reasonable compromise which respects the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, the single market and provides for democratic consent in Northern Ireland.

"The Prime Minister set out how there is little time remaining to negotiate a new agreement, and so we need to move quickly and work together to agree a deal. He reiterated that if we did not reach an agreement then the UK will leave without a deal on the 31 October. "

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that Mr Johnson will travel to Dublin for make-or-break talks with Leo Varadkar aimed at rescuing a Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister is expected to sit down with the Taoiseach at the end of this week, after the pair spoke for 40 minutes on the phone on Tuesday evening.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal. They hope to meet in person later this week."

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