Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, has rejected a plea by Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, to remove the backstop agreement from any Brexit deal. Verhofstadt accused the Prime Minister of playing “political blame games”.
Verhofstadt said on Twitter:
“I don’t see any majority in the @Europarl_EN to remove the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement. It is a vital insurance policy, negotiated in good faith & supported by the people of the Island of Ireland. The time for bluster & political blame games is fast running out.”
Boris Johnson, one of the two remaining candidates to become the leader of the Conservative Party, has been accused of misleading the public following his claim in party hustings that the European Union forced kipper suppliers in the Isle of Man to keep their dried fish cool with ice pillows.
Johnson said in his speech:
“After decades of sending kippers like this through the post he has had his costs massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats who have insisted that each kipper must be accompanied by this: a plastic ice pillow.”
Johnson’s claims were rejected by the European Union who said that the Food Standards Agency in the UK were responsible for the decision as the bloc did not have legal competence in this area. A spokesperson for the EU said:
“The case described by Mr Johnson falls outside the scope of the EU legislation and it’s purely a UK national competence, so I hope this is clear and the rules must be checked with the national authorities.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit co-ordinator for the European Parliament, said of Johnson’s speech that:
“National politicians who promote misinformation about “Brussels” for their own interests deserve to be caught out.”
Fullfact, the charity which fact-checks claims, said:
“The EU does not set any requirements on the temperature at which smoked fish must be transported. The temperature requirement is a UK regulation.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has congratulated Greece on passing legislation which resolves a long-standing disagreement on the use of the word Macedonia.
Hunt said in a statement:
“The UK congratulates Greece’s Parliament for successfully ratifying the Prespes Agreement. This is an historic moment bringing a decades-old dispute close to an end. Today’s vote paves the way to the full implementation of the Agreement, which has the full support of the UK.
Both countries have demonstrated great courage and the will to work together to affect real change. The deal brings the prospect of increased stability and prosperity to the wider region. We look forward to continued working with two trusted allies in the interests of European security.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, posted on Facebook:
“A historic moment! Congrats to the Republic of #NorthMacedonia, Greece, Alexis Tsipras & Zoran Zaev for solving this 27 year dispute. A vital step towards reconciliation in the Western Balkans and a breakthrough in Skopje’s EU path.”
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today met with Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative for Brexit, in Downing Street. They discussed the progress being made on Brexit, and also the rights of UK citizens in the EU.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:
“The Prime Minister gave an update on the negotiations, and on the commitment she gave on Friday to guarantee the rights of the three million EU citizens in the UK in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. She thanked Guy Verhofstadt for his efforts to engage Member States on the rights of British nationals living in the EU.
They discussed the two key outstanding issues in the negotiations: the future economic partnership and the Northern Ireland backstop. The Prime Minister underlined the need to ensure frictionless trade between the EU and the UK as part of the future relationship in order to find a solution to the Northern Ireland border and maintain the constitutional integrity of the UK. They both agreed that the best solution to the Northern Ireland border would be found through the future relationship.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the government would also bring forward further proposals on the Northern Ireland backstop. They agreed on the need to resolve these ongoing issues in a timely fashion so that the agreements could be discussed and ratified by UK and European Parliaments”.
Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, has met with Theresa May, the Prime Minister. Verhofstadt also met Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, for on-going talks about the Brexit negotiations.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:
“This morning the Prime Minister met Guy Verhofstadt MEP at Downing Street, as part of ongoing engagement with representatives from the European Parliament.
The Prime Minister and Mr Verhofstadt discussed the importance of citizens’ rights, including the proposals the UK put forward last week regarding EU citizens arriving during the implementation period. The Prime Minister reiterated that the expectations of those moving to the UK in this period will not be the same as those who arrived before our withdrawal.
The Prime Minister restated her commitment to avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and noted the importance of officials from the Irish government, the European Commission and the UK meeting to discuss practical solutions.
They discussed the European Parliament’s proposals for an institutional framework to support a close future relationship between the UK and the EU and the Prime Minister explained the vision for the future economic partnership set out in her Mansion House speech.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis attended the meeting. Mr Verhofstadt also met the Home Secretary Amber Rudd after the meeting”.
Verhofstadt said on Twitter:
“So many British people feel and are proud to be European. The welcome I received today in London was overwhelming. It is my priority and that of the European Parliament to make sure that citizens’ rights are protected after Brexit”.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, and David Davis, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, have failed to make substantial progress following the recent round of negotiations over Brexit.
Barnier said in a press statement:
“British positions are nostalgic, they involve wanting to benefit from all single market benefits without being in it.”
Davis disagreed with the assessment, saying in a statement:
“This week we’ve had long and detailed negotiations across multiple areas and I think it’s fair to say, we’ve made some concrete progress”.
“Given the current pace of talks there is a real danger that sufficient progress will not be made by October. It would be a very risky strategy to burn negotiating time now in the hope that individual EU leaders will ride to the rescue; it was EU governments who defined Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate”.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s negotiator has rejected plans laid out by David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, to leave the customs union, whilst temporarily remaining within it.
Verhofstadt said in a statement:
“The new paper announced by the U.K. Government seems to suggest that it is possible to be in and out of the customs union at the same time. Moreover, that an “invisible border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland is feasible. I fear this is all mere fantasy. In any case these discussions will be part of the second phase of the negotiations. First, we need to deal with the issues currently on the table: the rights of the citizens and the financial settlement”.
Davis said, when questioned on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, about what would happen in the interim was unable to give further details, saying:
“What happens in that sort of interim period you will have to leave me to negotiate, I’m afraid”.
David Davis’s authority was also damaged when James Chapman, his former Chief of Staff, launched an attack onto the character of Davis. He said:
“I was with David Davis when he leered over Diane Abbott. He was drunk, bullying and inappropriate”.