Boris Johnson reiterates call for ‘flexibility’ in Brexit talks; ‘No breakthrough, no breakdown’, says EU Council President Donald Tusk

The British prime minister underlined to Tusk that his preference is for an exit agreement, a Downing Street spokesperson said

Agence France-Presse September 24, 2019 10:31:31 IST
Boris Johnson reiterates call for ‘flexibility’ in Brexit talks; ‘No breakthrough, no breakdown’, says EU Council President Donald Tusk
  • Boris Johnson reiterated a call for 'flexibility' from the EU in Brexit talks during a meeting with Council President Donald Tusk

  • Johnson, Tusk met on sidelines of UN General Assembly as Britain races towards departure without exit agreement, prospect of economic disruption

  • The British prime minister underlined to Tusk that his preference is for an exit agreement, a Downing Street spokesperson said

New York: British prime minister Boris Johnson reiterated a call for "flexibility" from the EU in Brexit talks during a meeting with Council President Donald Tusk in New York on Monday that failed to yield a breakthrough.

Boris Johnson reiterates call for flexibility in Brexit talks No breakthrough no breakdown says EU Council President Donald Tusk

British PM Boris Johnson and EU Council President Donald Tusk. Reuters

Johnson and Tusk met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly as Britain races towards its 31 October departure without an exit agreement and the prospect of economic disruption. The British prime minister underlined to Tusk that his preference is for an exit agreement, a Downing Street spokesperson said, adding that the pair discussed finding an alternative to the so-called "Irish backstop."

They also discussed three papers recently submitted by London with ideas on replacing the backstop provisions in the Brexit deal struck last year but rejected by British lawmakers. "The Prime Minister emphasised that in order to secure a deal, we will now need to see movement and flexibility from the EU," said the spokesman.

"The leaders agreed to keep in touch over the coming weeks," he added. Tusk tweeted that there had been, "No breakthrough. No breakdown," adding that there was "no time to lose." The meeting came as the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Monday that London's current position did not offer any "basis to find an agreement" on leaving the bloc.

He said it was "difficult to see how we can arrive at a legally operative solution which fulfills all the objectives of the backstop." The "backstop" is intended to guarantee that there is no hard border between EU member Ireland and the UK's province of Northern Ireland and to protect the EU's single market.

The British government has admitted that leaving without an exit agreement could cause food shortages and spark civil unrest. Johnson also held a 30 minutes meeting with prime minister Charles Michel of Belgium, in which Brexit was discussed, the spokesperson for the British prime minister said.

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