Brussels pushes back Brexit talks with UK

5 October 2019, 01:26

The European Commission agreed to push back discussions with the UK
The European Commission agreed to push back discussions with the UK. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The European Commission dealt a blow to Boris Johnson's new Brexit proposals by delaying discussions originally scheduled for Saturday.

Talks between the UK and the EU will not continue as previously anticipated this weekend as Mr Johnson's ideas "do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement".

EU member states agreed to push back discussions to a later date and give the UK "another opportunity to present its proposals in detail" on Monday.

This is despite the prime minister's European adviser, David Frost, having been in Brussels for technical talks with officials.

A spokesman said: "Michel Barnier debriefed COREPER (The Permanent Representatives Committee) yesterday, where member states agreed that the UK proposals do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement."

Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated he will not push back the date for when the UK is set to leave the EU.

However, his legal team have said he will comply with the Benn Act, a law that ensures the country only leaves the European Union on 31 October if an agreement is reached or No Deal is passed through Parliament.

The Commission said the UK proposals "do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement"
The Commission said the UK proposals "do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement". Picture: PA

The prime minister accepted he must send a letter requesting a delay to Brexit beyond the Halloween deadline if no deal is agreed with Parliament by 19 October, Scotland's highest civil court heard.

Yet Mr Johnson later argued there were only two options on the table: his new, revised deal, or No Deal.

Delay to Brexit was off the table, according to the UK leader.

He previously said "we will obey the law" but will also leave on October 31 in any circumstance, without explaining how he would achieve the opposing aims.

This fuelled speculation that he had identified a loophole to circumvent the Benn Act.

The Telegraph, citing EU sources, said senior ministers had reached out to the Hungarian government for assurances it would veto any request for a delay.

This outcome is considered a possibility which would see the prime minister comply with the law and deliver Brexit at the end of October.

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