Stop playing ‘stupid blame game’ on Brexit, EU’s Tusk tells Johnson

Boris JohnsonThe European Union accused Britain of playing a “stupid blame game” over Brexit on Tuesday after a Downing Street source said a deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands.

With just 23 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the bloc, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain and both London and Brussels are positioning themselves to avoid blame for a delay or a disorderly no-deal Brexit.

In a sign that Johnson’s last-ditch proposals to bridge the impasse have failed, a Downing Street source said Merkel and Johnson spoke on Tuesday morning and she made clear that a deal was “overwhelmingly unlikely”.

The Downing Street source said that if Merkel’s position on Northern Ireland remaining in the EU’s customs union was the bloc’s position, then a deal was impossible.

“If this represents a new established position then it means a deal is essentially impossible not just now but ever,” the Downing Street source said. A spokesman for the German chancellor confirmed the call had taken place but declined to comment further.

The EU was scathing.

“Boris Johnson, what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game,” European Council President Tusk said on Twitter. “At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?”

Johnson’s Brexit envoy, diplomat David Frost, is in Brussels for technical talks on a possible withdrawal agreement to put to EU leaders at next week’s European summit.

But the two sides are still far apart over future customs arrangements for Northern Ireland, and EU officials were forced to deny reports from London that talks are close to breaking down.

“From our side we reiterate that the EU position has not changed. We want a deal, we are working with the UK for a deal,” spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters.

“Technical talks are continuing today so I don’t see how talks could have actually broken down if they are happening today and in the days to continue,” she said.