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Court delays decision on forcing PM to seek Brexit extension

09 October 2019

Merkel says for a deal to be agreed upon, Northern Ireland would have to stay in the EU customs union forever, which Johnson is not prepared to agree to.

But Johnson has repeatedly said he will not shift on the issue, pointing to a collapse in the negotiations just weeks before Britain's scheduled European Union exit on October 31.

DUBLIN, Oct 9 ― It will be very hard to secure a Brexit agreement by next week with big gaps remaining in the British position, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday following a phone call with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.

In Berlin, Merkel's office confirmed the chancellor spoke by telephone to Johnson but said it would not comment "on such confidential discussions".

Varadkar said Ireland can't accept a deal at any cost as Britain seeks to renegotiate plans meant to ensure there is no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland.

Johnson's proposal envisages Northern Ireland leave the EU's customs union alongside the rest of the United Kingdom at the start of 2021.

According to the Downing Street official, Merkel demanded a rewrite of Britain's approach to the contentious Irish border problem that made a compromise "essentially impossible".

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The Taoiseach also expressed his doubts over the chances of an agreement being reached before a summit of European Union leaders, set for October 17, which was set to see the next step in the Brexit process mapped out.

"However, I must note that there has been no progress" toward agreeing a new deal between Britain and the European Union ahead of the October 31 deadline.

The British government is due to publish a plan for a potential no-deal Brexit later on Tuesday.

It followed the dour mood of Tuesday when Downing Street said a Brexit deal was "essentially impossible" and Irish leader Leo Varadkar said a deal before 31 October would be "very hard".

"We are working for a deal with the U.K".

The dire outlook presented by Johnson's government sparked a war of words with European Council President Donald Tusk, who tweeted directly at the prime minister: "What's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game".

The U.K. Parliament is set to be suspended later Tuesday so that a new session can begin next week with a major policy speech from Johnson's Conservative government.

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"If the European Union doesn't do a deal shortly, then we leave without a deal", the source said.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that if negotiations fail, "the explanation will be found in the British camp (because) the original sin is found on the islands and not on the continent".

The Downing Street source reportedly said that Tuesday's call was a "very useful clarifying moment in all sorts of ways", with the result that "a deal is essentially impossible not just now but ever".

On Wednesday, the Bank of England said that its financial systems were ready for a no-deal Brexit.

"This government will not negotiate further so any delay would be totally pointless", the source was quoted as saying.

Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic meanwhile posted losses on growing investor doubts over chances of success in this week's China-US trade talks.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the sitting would be an opportunity for MPs to press the Prime Minister to comply with the so-called Benn Act requiring him to seek a further Brexit delay if there is no agreement at the summit.

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Court delays decision on forcing PM to seek Brexit extension