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Brexit: Donald Tusk blasts Boris Johnson’s ‘stupid blame game’ as talks near collapse

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EU chief Donald Tusk today lashed out at Boris Johnson’s “stupid blame game” as Brexit talks came close to collapse, with Britain and Brussels locked in an angry row.

The European Council President erupted in a furious public attack after hours of vicious No10 briefings trying to blame Brussels for an impending breakdown.

Mr Johnson has just days to agree a Brexit deal with the EU before a summit on October 17.

As hopes of a deal faded fast, a No10 source last night claimed any Brexit delay will send EU countries to the “bottom of the queue” for trade and throw co-operation in the “toilet”.

Today a source went further – accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of trying to tear up any compromise and saying a deal is now “overwhelmingly unlikely”.

Those briefings prompted a furious row as Mr Tusk – who represents 27 EU leaders – accused the UK PM of deliberately trying not to get a deal.

Mr Tusk tweeted: ” Boris Johnson , what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game.

“At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people.

“You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke”

 

“You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?”

The phrase is Latin for “where are you going?”

Tory MP and self-styled ‘Brexit hardman’ Steve Baker responded to Mr Tusk by saying: “The EU has been encouraged by our weak and incompetent Parliament to think Northern Ireland is the price. That’s wrong. Boris is right to defend our Union.”

And Cabinet no-deal planning chief Michael Gove told Parliament: “We’ve moved – it is now time for the EU to move too.

“If it does, then there is still every chance we can leave with a new deal. However, if the EU does not move this Government is prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.”

Michael Gove told Parliament: “We’ve moved – it is now time for the EU to move too”

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer accused the Government of “engaging in a reckless blame game”

But Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer accused the Government of “engaging in a reckless blame game” and said it was “intent on collapsing the talks”.

He said: “The proposals the Government put forward last week were never going to work.

“Instead of reacting to challenge by adapting the proposals, the Government is intent on collapsing the talks and engaging in a reckless blame game and it will be working people who pay the price.”

Sir Keir said the actions were “absolutely defining the character of this Prime Minister, a man who never takes responsibility for his own actions.”

The PM unveiled his “reasonable compromise” last week to rewrite the Brexit deal to ditch Theresa May’s Irish backstop – instead having a system of two borders in the region.

But he refuses to publish the full legal text and the EU have refused to enter into detailed talks.

Today private briefings emerged from sources in both No10 and the EU warning a deal is set to collapse – and blaming the other side.

Boris Johnson held an 8am phone call with Germany’s Chancellor that a Downing Street source called a “clarifying moment”. The No10 source said: “The call with Merkel showed the EU has adopted a new position.

 

The PM unveiled his “reasonable compromise” last week – but it’s gone down like a cup of cold sick

 

“She made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely and she thinks the EU has a veto on us leaving the customs union.

“Merkel said that the PM should tell Northern Ireland that it must stay in full alignment forever, but that even this would not eliminate customs issues.”

The briefing prompted a furious response from DUP leader Arlene Foster and the Tories’ Northern Ireland Secretary.

Ms Foster said Merkel’s supposed plans would be “beyond crazy” adding: “No UK Government could ever concede such a surrender.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith tweeted: “I am clear that any threat on withdrawing security cooperation with Ireland is unacceptable. This is not in the interest of NI or the Union.”

Yet a European Commission spokeswoman said the EU’s position had not changed. She told a briefing in Brussels: “We want a deal. We are working for a deal with the United Kingdom.

“And under no circumstances will we accept that the EU wants to do harm to the Good Friday Agreement. The purpose of our work is to protect it.”

Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney added: ”There is a lot of misinformation going around today so let me say this loud and clear to everybody – the Irish government and the EU is working flat out to achieve a deal that sees an orderly Brexit at the end of this month.

“However, that deal cannot come at any cost. The British government has responsibilities on the island of Ireland.

“A no-deal Brexit will not be Ireland’s choice, it will never be the EU’s choice.”

 

The DUP’s Arlene Foster condemned comments by Angela Merkel this morning

 

Meanwhile, a scathing verdict on progress over Brexit was leaked to the right-wing Spectator website by an anonymous “contact” inside 10 Downing Street.

The briefing – widely blamed on top aide Dominic Cummings – says “if this deal dies in the next few days, then it won’t be revived” and any sincere co-operation “will be in the toilet”.

And it claims EU countries that back a delay to Brexit will be punished by being sent to the “bottom of the queue” for a future trade deal.

The briefing says: “We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go the front of the queue for future cooperation.

 

A vicious briefing this morning was widely blamed on top aide Dominic Cummings

“Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue”.

The BBC revealed specific objections to the plan within the EU. Brussels chiefs were said to be “nonplussed” at a line in the legal text that asks them to rule out checks on the Irish border.

Boris Johnson’s own deal does not guarantee a lack of checks. Instead the Stormont Assembly would be given a veto over future trading rules with the Republic.

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The BBC claimed EU chiefs were so shocked by the proposal that they asked if it was a mistake.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: “This is yet another cynical attempt by Number 10 to sabotage the negotiations.

“Boris Johnson will never take responsibility for his own failure to put forward a credible deal. His strategy from day one has been for a No Deal Brexit.

“It is now more important than ever that Parliament unites to prevent this reckless Government crashing us out of the EU at the end of the month.”



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