Irish PM says very hard to secure Brexit deal by next week

Sterling under pressure

Boris Johnson is to hold crunch talks in Dublin with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week as negotiations to avert a no-deal Brexit hang in the balance.

The grim assessment from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office following a phone call between the British leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes just weeks before an October 31 deadline to leave the EU.

"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.

The now-deleted ad was accompanied by a poster showing German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a pose bearing, perhaps coincidentally, a resemblance to the Nazi salute.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the EU's position had not changed. None of us want to have a prime minister who is facing contempt of court proceedings. Plus, it's in their interest to make sure that the checks necessary once the United Kingdom goes its own way on trade deals are firmly in place rather than scattered in warehouses throughout not just the Six Counties but also throughout Ireland too - and Varadkar doesn't want to get stuck holding the bag for being the UK's customs enforcer.

European Council president Donald Tusk hit back at Number 10, accusing Mr Johnson of engaging in a "stupid blame game". "You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?" - a Latin phrase meaning "where are you going?"

Mrs Merkel is said to have told the Prime Minister that Northern Ireland is the UK's "special problem" and that the Irish Republic must at least have a veto on it leaving the customs union.

Britain will take an aggressive stance towards the European Union if Brexit talks break down, threatening to withhold security cooperation to convince the bloc not to allow any further delay, a British source was quoted as saying. The UK government has put forward nothing credible to deal with border issues in Ireland.

The U.K. government last week pitched its new withdrawal deal, but the new proposal failed to impress European Union officials.

Germany has been one of the most outspoken advocates for allowing the United Kingdom as much flexibility as possible to avoid a no-deal scenario on 31 October or at a later date.

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Johnson's opponents in Britain accused the government of deliberately undermining the Brexit talks.

An EU summit, with Brexit on the table, is due next week and Johnson is has vowed to take the country of the EU by October 31 - without delay.

It remains unclear what "sorts of things" Johnson will do to implement a no-deal Brexit.

And Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The UK government's attempt to shift the blame for the Brexit fiasco to anyone but themselves - today it's Merkel - is pathetically transparent".

Ireland braced for the worst with a no-deal Brexit budget while Britain announced its no-deal tariff plan and updated its preparations for a no-deal exit - a nightmare scenario for many big businesses. The government says those plans will minimize any resulting economic shock.

The "Readiness Report", for example, notes the government has created a dedicated unit to support suppliers of medical goods in Britain, which could soon need to jump through additional hoops to ensure the integrity of their supply chains. Britain says it will try to keep goods flowing by not immediately imposing border checks on imports from the EU.

He tweeted that a deal based on the UK's latest proposals had "been unrealistic from the beginning and yet the European Union has been willing to engage".

David Sassoli said the UK's new proposed customs arrangements for Northern Ireland were a "long way from something to which the Parliament could agree".

MPs will be called to Parliament for a special Saturday sitting in a decisive day for the future of Brexit.

Parliament is expected to be suspended Tuesday evening until October 14 to give Johnson's government the chance to set out a new legislative agenda in a "Queen's Speech". This week's shorter suspension is more routine. Lawmakers will return on Monday.

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