A Downing Street source has revealed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a new exit treaty is “overwhelmingly unlikely”.
The source told media that negotiations over a new Brexit deal — which eliminates the Irish backstop — “are close to breaking down” following a 30-minute phone call between the two leaders on Tuesday morning.
“The call with Merkel showed the EU has adopted a new position,” the source said, saying the conversation “means a deal is essentially impossible not just now but ever”.
The source said: “She made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely and she thinks the EU has a veto on us leaving the Customs Union.
“Merkel said that if Germany wanted to leave the EU they could do it no problem, but the UK cannot leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a customs union and in full alignment forever.
“She said that Ireland is the government’s special problem and Ireland must at least have a veto on Northern Ireland leaving.
“Merkel said that the prime minister should tell Northern Ireland that it must stay in full alignment forever, but that even this would not eliminate customs issues.”
The German government’s spokesman confirmed the call took place but declined to confirm what was discussed.
Some EU sources have said that they do not ‘recognise’ the language reportedly used in the conversation. However, the report struck a nerve with the outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk who flashed some recognisably undiplomatic language when he accused the prime minister of trying to win “some stupid blame game”.
No 10 Source: No Deal a Certainty Either Now or After Election https://t.co/RbyzCAu37K
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 8, 2019
The report comes after a Number 10 source told The Spectator: “Those who think Merkel will help us are deluded.”
Steve Baker, chairman of the Conservative Party’s European Research Group (ERG), told Sky News: “The problem that we face here is that the EU is trying to exercise a veto on whether part of our country can leave the Customs Union.
“They’ve effectively set up a narrative that you can’t leave the European Union. That’s a stark warning to all of us who wish to live in a democracy.”
Mr Baker also condemned the bloc for “treat[ing] Northern Ireland like an enclave which can be left behind” which he said was “an ultimate red line for the prime minister” and “certainly a red line for the DUP”.
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, said Mr Johnson’s proposals had “flushed out Dublin’s real intention to trap Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union forever”.
“We will not accept any such ultimatum or outcome,” she added.
A Number 10 source revealed to The Spectator this morning that the government stands by delivering a no-deal Brexit, whether by October 31st or after a forced extension, the figure saying: “The negotiations will probably end this week.”
Boris to Take Legal Action Against ‘Surrender Act’, Allow No Deal: Report https://t.co/3NwgYxtpco
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 7, 2019