- The EU accuses Boris Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game” on Brexit as relations with the United Kingdom reach a new low.
- An exasperated European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that Johnson doesn’t “want a deal”.
- The outburst followed an explosive anonymous UK government briefing on Tuesday suggesting that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had told Johnson a deal was now impossible.
- The German government declined to comment on the conversation between the two leaders.
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LONDON — European Council President Donald Tusk has accused Boris Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game” on Brexit as tensions between the United Kingdom government and European Union approach boiling point.
Tusk’s comments followed an anonymous briefing by Johnson’s aides on Tuesday which suggested that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had signalled that a Brexit deal was now “impossible” unless Northern Ireland remained in the EU Customs Union.
Following reports of the briefing, Tusk accused Johnson of sabotaging a potential agreement on Brexit.
“You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis [where are you going?]” he tweeted.
—Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 8, 2019
Relations between Johnson’s government and the EU hit a new low on Tuesday after an anonymous Downing Street source accused Brussels of not wanting to negotiate a new deal in a blistering statement.
The source claimed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the UK would not be able to leave the EU without Northern Ireland remaining in full alignment with EU rules “forever.”
A spokesperson for the Chancellor declined to comment on what Merkel had or had not told Johnson.
Heading for no-deal?
The prime minister last week revealed his latest Brexit proposals for managing the Irish border after the UK leaves the EU.
The proposals have been broadly rejected by senior EU figures, with Brussels declining to enter new formal negotiations.
The question of how to prevent physical checks on the island of Ireland is at the centre of the Brexit impasse.
Under Johnson’s proposals, sent to the EU last week, there will be a new customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, if there are no new trading arrangements in place.
However, the proposal has been roundly rejected by the Irish government, with the deputy prime minister saying last week that the country “could not possibly” support them.
The disagreement points Britain towards a no-deal scenario at the end of October.
However, under the terms of a piece of legislation passed by opposition members of the UK parliament last month, Johnson must request a delay to Brexit if he fails to secure a deal by October 19.