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European Parliament says Boris Johnson's Brexit plan is 'not even remotely' acceptable

3 min read

Boris Johnson's plan to break the Brexit deadlock is not "remotely" good enough to help secure a deal with Brussels, according to the European Parliament.

In a damning assessment, the legislature - which has to sign off any agreement - said it had "grave concerns" about the paper put forward by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

The Irish government has also warned that "there will be no deal" unless the UK government makes more concessions.

Mr Johnson has proposed replacing the Irish backstop with a regulatory border in the Irish Sea as well as customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

But the EU Parliament's Brexit Steering Group issued a strongly-worded denunciation of the plan, which the PM has insisted can form the basis of a deal in time for the 31 October Brexit deadline.

Their statement said: "The BSG does not find these last minute proposals of the UK government of 2 October, in their current form, represent a basis for an agreement to which the European Parliament could give consent.

"The proposals do not address the real issues that need to be resolved if the backstop were to be removed, namely the all-island economy, the full respect of the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of the single market.

"While we remain open to workable, legally operable and serious solutions, the UK’s proposals fall short and represent a significant movement away from joint commitments and objectives."

They went on: "In summary, the BSG has grave concerns about the UK proposal, as tabled. Safeguarding peace and stability on the island of Ireland, protection of citizens and EU’s legal order has to be the main focus of any deal.

"The UK proposals do not match even remotely what was agreed as a sufficient compromise in the backstop.

"The European Parliament remains open to explore all proposals, but these need to be credible, legally operable, and in practise have the same effect as the compromises found in the withdrawal agreement."

Meanwhile, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said Mr Johnson's plan "falls short" of what is required to get a deal.

His deputy, Simon Coveney, went even further in his criticisms of the UK's offer. 

He said: "If this is the final proposal, there will be no deal."

But DUP leader Arlene Foster hit back at Mr Coveney's for a "deeply unhelpful" reaction to the UK's offer.

“Simon Coveney’s remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent.  The Irish government’s majoritarian desire to ride roughshod over unionism was one of the reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected" she said.

"Mr Coveney’s rejection of a reasonable offer is paving the road for a no deal exit because unionism will not allow Northern Ireland to be trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU.  We will not buy that."  

Her party's leader in Westminster, Nigel Dodds, meanwhile branded the comments from the Irish government "incendiary and outrageous". 

"Our message to Leo is simple. He should reflect on his comments and his intransigent approach, " he said.

"He is destined to go down in history as the Taoiseach who restored a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because his friends in Brussels will insist on it.”

Earlier, Mr Johnson had said his plan was an attempt to "bridge the chasm" between the the UK and the EU.

He said: "This government’s objective has always been to leave with a deal. And these constructive and reasonable proposals show our seriousness of purpose.

“They do not deliver everything that we would have wished. They do represent a compromise.

“But to remain a prisoner of existing positions is to become a cause of deadlock rather than breakthrough.

“And so we have made a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable. And to go the extra mile as time runs short."

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