EU snubs Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals by refusing weekend talks

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says the PM's plans aren't enough to merit a deal.
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says the PM's plans aren't enough to merit a deal.
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Brussels dealt a heavy blow to Boris Johnson’s new Brexit proposals, as the EU rejected a government request to allow Brexit talks to run through the weekend.

Talks between the two sides were expected to continue yesterday after the Prime Minister set out his plan to replace the controversial Irish backstop.

But in a snub to David Frost, Boris Johnson’s Europe advisor, the European Commission turned down the request, stating that EU member states had agreed the proposals “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.

A spokesman said discussions would not take place this weekend and instead the UK would be given “another opportunity to present its proposals in detail” on Monday.

“Michel Barnier debriefed the Permanent Representatives Committee yesterday, where member states agreed that the UK proposals do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement,” he said.

However Mr Johnson’s proposals won support from the likes of Margot James who was one of the 21 Tory rebels expelled from the party last month, and Paul Scully of the European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptics.

Ms James told BBC Radio 4’s The Week In Westminster she thought she and the other sacked rebels would be able to support the PM’s proposals.

“If the Prime Minister can get EU and Irish agreement then I think that we would - we’ve all got reservations - but we would be prepared to compromise and vote for the deal. Our prime concern really is to avoid Britain leaving without a deal.”

Mr Scully said there was a “lot of sympathy” among members of the ERG to get the deal through the Commons. But Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: “The truth is we’re further away from a deal than we were two months ago and I can’t see this getting anywhere.”

The move came after Johnson insisted that he would not delay Brexit despite his lawyers saying he will comply with a law calling for the 31 October exit date to be postponed if there is no deal.

The Prime Minister accepted he must send a letter requesting a delay to Brexit beyond the Halloween deadline if no deal is agreed with Parliament by 19 October, Scotland’s highest civil court heard.

But the PM later said the options facing the country were his proposed new Brexit deal or leaving without an agreement, “but no delay”.

The Prime Minister has previously said “we will obey the law” but will also leave on 31 October in any circumstance, without specifying how he would achieve the apparently contradictory goals – fuelling speculation that he had identified a loophole to get around the Benn Act.

An extension to the Article 50 process would have to be agreed by all 27 other EU leaders.

Judge Lord Pentland is to announce his decision tomorrow.