UK rejects deadline to submit proposals for Brexit

Boris Johnson

The prime minister will not be bound by an “artificial deadline” to produce formal written proposals to resolve the Brexit deadlock, the government has said.

Finnish prime minister Antti Rinne, following talks in Paris with French president Emmanuel Macron, said Boris Johnson should outline its Brexit plans to the EU by the end of September.

But a UK government spokesman said proposals would be put forward “when we are ready” and when Brussels is willing to “engage constructively on them”.

Number 10 also confirmed that the UK had now shared, in written form, a series of “confidential technical non-papers” which reflect the ideas the UK has been putting forward.

Previously documents had been shown to Brussels officials but then taken back at the end of meetings for fear they would be leaked.

But a “non-paper” is not a formal government position and falls far short of what has been demanded by Brussels.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said: “There’s still a big gap between what the British government has been suggesting that they’re looking for and what Ireland and the EU need in terms of getting a deal, and in order to close that gap we need to get credible proposals from the British government which we simply haven’t received yet.”

The UK government spokesman said there had been “detailed discussions” in recent weeks with the European Commission’s Taskforce 50 – the unit dealing with Brexit.

“We have now shared in written form a series of confidential technical non-papers which reflect the ideas the UK has been putting forward.

“We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them as a replacement for the backstop.”

Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, who will meet Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Friday, warned the European Union against a “rigid” approach and suggested the final details of an alternative to the Irish backstop may not need to be resolved until the end of 2020.

France Finland
France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister of Finland Antti Rinne at the Elysee Palace (Thibault Camus/AP)

The backstop – the controversial contingency measure which would keep the UK closely aligned to Brussels’ rules in order to prevent a hard border with Ireland – is seen as the main stumbling block to a deal.

Rinne told reporters that he and Macron “agreed that it is now time for Boris Johnson to produce his own proposals in writing – if they exist”.

“If no proposals are received by the end of September, then it’s over.”

Barclay, speaking during a visit to Spain, said: “A rigid approach now at this point is no way to progress a deal and the responsibility sits with both sides to find a solution.”

He said the prime minister had shown he was willing to be “creative and flexible” by considering an all-Ireland approach to plant and animal checks and suggested that it was now for the European Commission to shift its stance.

Barclay also suggested that the EU’s call for a legally operational alternative to the backstop to be ready on Brexit day was setting the bar too high.

“The alternative to the backstop is not necessary until the end of the implementation period which is December 2020,” he said.

Barclay said failing to leave the European Union on October 31 was “not an option for this Government” but was challenged over how Johnson’s administration would comply with the law aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit.

The cabinet minister said “of course we will abide by the law” but he added “we will look at it closely and test exactly where we are” – the latest sign that the government is examining ways around its measures.

Featured image via YouTube

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. While not exactly relevant to the article, I find it worrying to see adverts on TV saying ‘Are you ready for Brexit?’. I take it they are paid for from our taxes, they assume we are leaving on the 31st of October (or try to make us think this), and, as a member of the public, HOW can I be ‘ready for Brexit?’ What do I do? What a farce, and a total waste of money, while families are put up in Travelodge hotels.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.