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Brexit hangs in the balance as EU doubts a deal this week


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Brexit hangs in the balance as EU doubts a deal this week

By Guy Faulconbridge and Gabriela Baczynska

 

2019-10-14T214701Z_1_LYNXMPEF9D1UD_RTROPTP_4_BRITAIN-EU-PARLIAMENT.JPG

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a debate after the Queen's Speech in the House of Commons, in London, Britain October 14, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

 

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A deal to smooth Britain's departure from the European Union hung in the balance on Monday after diplomats indicated the bloc wanted more concessions from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said a full agreement was unlikely this week.

 

As the Brexit maelstrom spins, Johnson and EU leaders face a tumultuous week of reckoning that could decide whether the divorce is orderly, acrimonious or delayed yet again.

 

Johnson says he wants to strike an exit deal at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday to allow an orderly departure on Oct. 31. If an agreement is not possible, he says he will lead the United Kingdom out of the club it joined in 1973 without a deal - even though parliament has passed a law saying he cannot do so.

 

But current EU president Finland said more time was needed and that negotiations could continue even after the EU summit.

 

"I think there is no time in a practical or legal way to find an agreement before the EU Council meeting," Prime Minister Antti Rinne said after talks with the next chair of EU summits, Charles Michel. "We need more time and we need to have negotiations after the (European) Council meeting."

 

Some EU politicians such as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said a deal was possible with more work. But EU diplomats were pessimistic about the chances of Johnson's hybrid customs proposal for the Irish border riddle.

 

"We are not very optimistic," a senior EU diplomat told Reuters.

 

After more than three years of Brexit crisis that has claimed the scalps of two British prime ministers, Johnson will have to ratify any last-minute deal in parliament, which will hold its first Saturday sitting since the 1982 Falklands War.

 

As EU ministers met in Luxembourg ahead of the leaders' summit, Johnson's planned legislative agenda was read out by Queen Elizabeth at the state opening of parliament.

 

If he is unable to clinch a deal, an acrimonious divorce could follow that would divide the West, roil financial markets and test the cohesion of the United Kingdom.

 

"Let's not wait - we can't wait: let's get Brexit done," Johnson told parliament. "If there could be one thing more divisive, more toxic than the first referendum, it be would be a second referendum."

 

The pound fell more than 1% to a session low of $1.2517 <GBP=D3>. Against the euro, the British currency weakened by a similar margin to 88.11 pence <EURGBP=D3>.

 

The main sticking point remains the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland: how to prevent it becoming a backdoor into the EU after Brexit without erecting controls that could undermine the 1998 peace agreement that largely ended three decades of sectarian violence.

 

BREXIT HANGS IN BALANCE

To get a deal done, Johnson must master the complexities of the Irish border before getting the approval of Europe's biggest powers and then sell any deal to the parliament in which he has no majority and which he suspended unlawfully last month.

 

"Johnson doesn't have a majority for anything in parliament," one EU official told Reuters.

 

The details of Johnson's proposals have not been published but are essentially a compromise in which Northern Ireland is formally in the United Kingdom's customs union but also informally in the EU's customs union.

 

But the EU is worried it would be impossible to ensure goods entering Northern Ireland do not end up in the bloc and is concerned about the complexity of a system for charging tariffs on goods moved between Britain and Northern Ireland.

 

"Such a hybrid customs territory like the British are proposing for Northern Ireland does not work anywhere in the world, it seems," an EU diplomat said.

"With this kind of system, with two sets of rules for the same goods crossing the same border, there is more possibility for fraud and it's extremely complicated to distinguish between goods heading for Northern Ireland, or further to Ireland and the single market."

 

In a sign that optimism which followed Johnson's meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar last week may have been premature, EU diplomats now say the best chance of a deal would be to keep Northern Ireland in the EU's customs union.

 

That would be a step too far for Johnson's Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, and many Brexit supporters in his party.

 

If he fails to strike a deal with the EU, a law passed by parliament obliges him to seek a delay - the scenario EU diplomats think is most likely.

 

"It's up to the Brits to decide if they will ask for an extension," European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with Austrian media outlet Kurier.

 

Extension options range from as short as an extra month to half a year or longer. The other EU states would need to agree unanimously to grant it.

 

(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Luxembourg and Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Catherine Evans)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-10-15
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They had 3 years time. And then somehow Boris thinks all should be changed in the last 3 weeks.

Or is it more likely that he just needs a reason to blame the EU that they didn't agree to his wonderful idea?

 

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It's time to test how airtight the Benn (Dover) surrender act is.

 

Stop wasting more time negotiating with people who have no interest in reaching a mutually beneficial deal. Get ready for a clean break Brexit.

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30 minutes ago, JonnyF said:

It's time to test how airtight the Benn (Dover) surrender act is.

 

Stop wasting more time negotiating with people who have no interest in reaching a mutually beneficial deal. Get ready for a clean break Brexit.

How can there be a clean break? If the UK leaves on October 31st with no deal, on November 1st it will have to start renegotiating with the E U all the deals that have become null and void.

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They've had three years to sort this out if we were going to leave we would have left.

I still believe Boris Johnson is acting there is no way he's going to leave with no deal , remember he is the epitome of the establishment.

They will keep fudging it until we get fed up and we stay the same.

by the way we need to do something either leave or remain it's all this uncertainty that is killing business and people's lives are being affected.

Sent from my SM-G965F using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app

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14 minutes ago, SteveK said:

Not another f***ing extension! 

Why do people get so stressed about extensions? It's not like their flight just got delayed at Heathrow (though it will if this no deal goes ahead). It is not like your average British worker is personally inconvenienced or involved in any other way. They can go about their daily lives until the best deal is achieved. You've got to hand it to Murdoch, he really got a lot of British voters to get stressed about this issue to take action whatever the immediate short term cost to the nation. Pity he can't do the same about climate change, which is a real emergency!

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Johnson was made PM because all those Tory Party members believed he would deliver Brexit and probably with no-deal.  That is what he said he would do and it is now interesting to see just how he get's on with it.  Deal or no deal?

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9 minutes ago, tyga said:

Why do people get so stressed about extensions? It's not like their flight just got delayed at Heathrow (though it will if this no deal goes ahead). It is not like your average British worker is personally inconvenienced or involved in any other way. They can go about their daily lives until the best deal is achieved. You've got to hand it to Murdoch, he really got a lot of British voters to get stressed about this issue to take action whatever the immediate short term cost to the nation. Pity he can't do the same about climate change, which is a real emergency!

I think the arguments for getting Brexit sorted have been expressed here over and over.  It's the uncertainty that is so damaging.  It keeps the pound horribly low and businesses don't know whether they can push ahead with expansion or look at downsizing.  It does affect everyone, one way or another and just like climate change, action is needed now!

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26 minutes ago, tyga said:

Why do people get so stressed about extensions?

I don't know if I should go ahead with my house purchase in France or not.

After Brexit, it's suggested I'll only be allowed to use it 90 days a year

If no Brexit, I can live there 24/7.

 

Every business deal is going to be affected in similar ways.

Either do it, or cancel it, but just stop prevaricating.

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19 minutes ago, dunroaming said:

Johnson was made PM because all those Tory Party members believed he would deliver Brexit and probably with no-deal.  That is what he said he would do and it is now interesting to see just how he get's on with it.  Deal or no deal?

Well, only 15 days left now, it'll happen or Johnson will be gone.

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