BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – The European Union told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson he must make significant concessions if he wants to strike a last-minute Brexit deal.
A British Union Jack flag is seen during a plenary session on preparations for the next EU leaders’ summit, at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
As the clock ticks down to the Oct. 31 departure date, Brexit descended into a public row between London and Brussels this week as both sides position for another delay followed by an election in Britain or an acrimonious divorce.
After a Downing Street source said a Brexit deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands, the EU accused Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game”.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said striking a Brexit deal ahead of Oct. 31 would be “very difficult” and the bloc could not accept Johnson’s proposals. He added that a deal was “still possible.”
“To put things frankly, we are not really in a position to be able to find agreement with the UK,” Barnier told the European Parliament. He said he would be available 24/7 in the coming days to try to strike a deal.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was working for a Brexit deal, which he also said was still possible.
“I don’t accept this blame game that started in London. Personally, I don’t exclude a deal,” Juncker told the European Parliament’s plenary session.
“The risk of a no-deal remains real and basically is going to come down to a decision by the UK government, but will never be the choice — the preferred option — of the European Union.”
The European Union’s two most powerful leaders,