Brussels accuses Boris Johnson of playing a 'stupid blame game'

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was urged not to press ahead with his plans for big tax cuts

Sterling erased earlier gains on Wednesday after the Northern Irish party that supports the British government said it would emphatically oppose a reported European Union concession on the Irish backstop under any Brexit deal.

A no 10 source said Mrs Merkel had told the Prime Minister that the United Kingdom could not leave the EU without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a customs union with the EU. "You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?" - a Latin phrase meaning "where are you going?"

The Downing Street official quoted Ms Merkel as saying that a deal now looked "overwhelming unlikely", and added that the Brexit talks were "close to breaking down".

Britain has been attempting for greater than three years to discover a strategy to ship on the results of a 2016 referendum and finish its virtually five-decade involvement within the European bloc.

Campaigners argued that leaving a ruling until after October 19 would cause "massive" legal uncertainty; to wait until the deadline had passed would spark serious administrative and practical obstacles to enacting a legal remedy ahead of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31.

However, Norbert Roettgen, a senior Merkel ally, said there was no new German position on Brexit.

In Berlin, a spokesman for the German government confirmed the two leaders had spoken but said he would not comment on the content of the call.

However he instructed reporters the pair had a "frank exchange" - diplomatic converse for a disagreement.

However, Tusk tweeted that Britain was playing with "the future of Europe and the UK" with no clear plan of what the country wanted.


"A no-deal Brexit will not be Ireland's choice, it will never be the EU's choice", he added.

The Irish prime minister - who is expected to meet Mr Johnson in Dublin on Thursday or Friday - said he would work "until the very last moment" to try to secure a deal.

However a lot of the main target is shifting to what occurs if the Brexit talks are formally pronounced lifeless.

The pound fell 0.5% to a one-week low of $1.2226, and weakened more than 0.7% against the euro, touching a low of 89.93 pence - its weakest level since September 9.

Johnson, who took over as PM from Theresa May in July, has been accused of political manoeuvring before calling a snap general election to strengthen his position in parliament.

Monday 14 October - The Commons is due to return, and the government will use the Queen's Speech to set out its legislative agenda.

The No 10 source suggested Mrs Merkel told her counterpart the only way to break the deadlock was for Northern Ireland to stay in the customs union and for it to permanently accept EU single market rules on trade in goods.

"It also made clear that they are willing to torpedo the Good Friday Agreement".

European Parliament Vice President Katarina Barley claimed there is a "vast majority" in EU Parliament for a Brexit extension, warning it is "not over until it's over". "We are working with an attitude to reach an agreement", a spokesman for the EC said. It's not clear how those two statements can be reconciled - but it's clear Mr Johnson wants to pin the blame for any delay on Parliament and the European Union, so that he can campaign as a champion of Brexit in an election that's likely to be called soon. He has also repeatedly demanded an election but parliament has refused to grant one.

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