Boris Johnson set to snub crunch EU summit as chances of new Brexit deal fade

Posted On: 
7th October 2019

Boris Johnson could snub a make-or-break EU summit unless significant progress is made on a new Brexit deal by the end of the week.

Boris Johnson could snub a crunch EU summit unless a deal is on the cards.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that he will negotiate a new agreement at the meeting of European leaders on 17 and 18 October.

But with hopes of a deal fading, it has now emerged that Mr Johnson may not even turn up at the Brussels gathering.

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Last Wednesday, the PM tabled his proposals for breaking the Brexit deadlock and removing the Irish backstop from the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May.

It envisaged extra regulatory checks on industrial goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Britain, as well as customs checks away from the border.

But it has received a cool response from Brussels, with Number 10 forced to shelve plans for Mr Johnson to visit European capitals this week trying to drum up support.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "He believes that we have set out a fair and sensible compromise and we’re now looking to the EU to match the compromise that the UK has made,

"We are ready to talk to the EU at pace to secure a deal so that we can move on and build a new partnership.

"The PM still believes there is an opportunity to get a deal done, but the EU must understand that in order to achieve that, the backstop has to be removed."

A senior government source said: "The EU's attitude is 'thanks very much for what you have offered, we're not going to move a millimetre in your direction'. That's not the basis for a negotiation."

Asked if Mr Johnson would still go to the EU summit if an agreement is not on the cards, another source said: "It depends what's on the agenda, but not if it's become apparent that there is no deal to be done."

Speaking during a hospital visit on Monday, Mr Johnson said: "Our proposal is very fair and very reasonable.

"It respects the peace process in Northern Ireland, it ensures there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. 

"It also goes further in maintaining Northern Ireland and Ireland in alignment for agri-foods but also for industrial goods as well. That is a big compromise by the UK government and what we're saying to our friends is 'this is a very reasonable offer we've made and we'd like to hear from you now what your thoughts are'."

Meanwhile, campaigners have failed in a legal bid to force the PM to abide by the Benn Act if he fails to reach a Brexit deal.

The Court of Session said it was rejecting the move because the Government had confirmed Mr Johnson will send a letter requesting a three-month extension to Article 50 if no deal is done by 19 October.

But the PM's spokesman said: "We do comply with the law, but we are leaving on 31 October."