Tuesday, the European Union rebuffed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demand that it reopen the BREXIT deal, saying Britain had failed to propose any realistic alternative to an agreed insurance policy for the border with Northern Ireland.
After more than 3 years of BREXIT uncertainty, the UK is heading to a showdown with the EU as Mr. Johnson has vowed to leave the bloc on 31 October without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the terms.
In his opening bid to the EU ahead of meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, PM Johnson wrote a 4-page letter to European Council President Donald Tusk asking to ax the Irish border “backstop”.
Mr. Johnson proposed that the backstop, part of the Withdrawal Agreement that then-PM Theresa May agreed last year be replaced with a “commitment” to implement alternative arrangements as part of a deal on the post-BREXIT relationship.
Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, said the EU would consider “practical solutions”, but that the Withdrawal Agreement, which contains the protocol on the Irish border “backstop”, did not need to be changed.
“It is a question of the declaration on future ties,” she said. “And I think we will act in a very unified way.”
The EC in Brussels was more direct.
“Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it,” Mr. Tusk Tweeted.
The GBP, sensitive to the prospects of a no-deal departure, fell after Mr. Tusk’s comments to near 3-year lows Vs the EUR and USD, before recovering its losses after Mrs. Merkel’s comments.
Note: The United Kingdom does not want there to be any border, effective or virtual, between Britain and Northern Ireland. Johnson’s government is supported up by Northern Irish unionists.