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Fri, 23 October 2020

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Jean-Claude Juncker says EU has still not seen Boris Johnson's plan for scrapping backstop

Jean-Claude Juncker says EU has still not seen Boris Johnson's plan for scrapping backstop
2 min read

Jean-Claude Juncker has accused Boris Johnson of failing to come up with any alternatives to the Irish backstop, just weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU.

The European Commission president spoke out after having lunch with the Prime Minister in Luxembourg.

Mr Johnson has insisted that the backstop - the mechanism to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland - must be removed if a new Brexit deal is to be struck.

According to Number 10, the Government has come up with "a number of workable solutions" to break the deadlock.

But in a statement following the lunch, the Commission said: "President Juncker recalled that it is the UK's responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement.

"President Juncker underlined the Commission's continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made."

Earlier, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "We have been having detailed discussions with European counterparts. We’ve brought to the table a number of areas where workable solutions can be found to remove the backstop.

"The UK has also presented ideas in the areas of customs and manufactured goods and issues related to the political declaration.

"The Prime Minister has said that in terms of publishing those proposals, it’s not helpful to negotiate in public in that way."

Downing Street insisted the lunch, which was also attended by Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, had been "constructive" and revealed that negotiations will now be ramped up as the clock ticks down to the 31 October deadline.

A spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister reconfirmed his commitment to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and his determination to reach a deal with the backstop removed, that UK parliamentarians could support.

"The Prime Minister also reiterated that he would not request an extension and would take the UK out of the EU on 31 October.

"The leaders agreed that the discussions needed to intensify and that meetings would soon take place on a daily basis.

"It was agreed that talks should also take place at a political level between Michel Barnier and the Brexit Secretary, and conversations would also continue between President Juncker and the Prime Minister."

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