'Stop Brexit': Boris Johnson barracked by protesters as EU says he has done nothing to achieve a new deal

'It is the UK's responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions' but 'such proposals have not yet been made' Brussels warns

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 16 September 2019 14:21
Comments
Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker greeted with boos in Luxemburg

The EU has criticised Boris Johnson for failing to present fresh Brexit proposals at a crucial face-to-face meeting, in a further blow to his hopes of a deal.

The prime minister had failed to table any new plans at talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission president, Brussels said.

“President Juncker recalled that it is the UK's responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement,” a Commission spokesperson said.

“President Juncker underlined the Commission's continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made.”

At the meeting in Luxembourg, Mr Johnson was met by a barrage of chanting from pro-EU protesters as he left a two-hour lunch.

“Go home Boris” and “stop Brexit” were among the shouts directed at the prime minister as the pair left a restaurant together.

Downing Street had hoped the meeting would pave the way for regular talks with Mr Juncker and Michel Barnier, his chief negotiator, with the 31 October Brexit deadline nearing.

It accepts an EU summit, on 17 October, is the last opportunity to reach an agreement, with the EU’s insistence on the Irish backstop, a guarantee of no return to border checks, still the key stumbling block.

If no agreement has been struck by 19 October, the law passed by parliament will compel Mr Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50 to avoid a no-deal Brexit on Halloween.

Downing Street put a brave face on events at the lunch, insisting the two sides had agreed “the discussions needed to intensify”.

“The prime minister reconfirmed his commitment to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and his determination to reach a deal with the backstop removed, that UK parliamentarians could support,” a spokesperson said.

“The prime minister also reiterated that he would not request an extension and would take the UK out of the EU on the 31 October.”

Talks would soon take place between Mr Barnier and Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, and “conversations would also continue between President Juncker and the prime minister”.

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