AP – October 04, 2019
LONDON (AP) Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says he thinks European Union members would contemplate delaying Brexit if the British government gives a good reason for seeking another extension.
Varadkar said Friday that if Britain makes such a request, “I think we would consider that.”
However, Varadkar qualified his prediction.
He said: “I think most EU countries would only consider it for a good reason,” adding his “preference is that we come to an agreement.”
Britain has a Oct. 31 deadline to leave the EU. The two sides are trying to renegotiate a withdrawal agreement.
The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has been a stumbling block in the talks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a compromise that has received mixed reviews from other EU nations.
A document read aloud in a Scottish court says British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would seek an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if no withdrawal deal with the European Union is reached by mid-October.
The document quoted in Scotland’s Court of Session on Friday indicated Johnson intends to comply with a law passed by Parliament that would require him to seek an extension if no deal is in place by Oct. 19.
Lawyer Jo Maugham tweeted that he and others read from a key government submission that includes the statement, “he (Johnson) will send a letter in the form set out.”
Maugham represents legislators and activists who brought a legal case in Scotland to try to ensure Johnson complies with a U.K. law aimed at barring a “no-deal” Brexit.
Johnson has said publicly he would not ask the EU for an extension under any circumstances.
British Brexit negotiator David Frost is continuing technical talks at EU headquarters on Friday, seeking ways to find a breakthrough in the stalled efforts to seal a UK-EU divorce settlement.
Following downbeat assessments from most EU officials and leaders, the fresh proposals put forward by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson face an uphill struggle to become the basis of a new agreement between both sides.
The EU leaders and Johnson are set to meet at an Oct. 17-18 summit in Brussels where they hope to be able to sign off on a deal. That goal is now seen as extremely ambitious.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman is welcoming the fact has Britain has made proposals to break the Brexit deadlock, but notes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is describing them as “an opening offer.”
Steffen Seibert said Friday that Merkel spoke with Johnson by phone on Wednesday, but Seibert stressed that negotiations are a matter for the European Union’s executive Commission.
Seibert says that Britain making proposals is “an important step,” though he added that Johnson “has himself underlined the fact that this is an opening offer.”
He says that an agreement “must preserve the integrity of the single market, (it) must be operable and it must avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
He didn’t comment further on Johnson’s proposal, which several European officials have made clear falls short of requirements.
Seibert reiterated that a no-deal Brexit “is in no one’s interest,” but preparations are underway for that outcome.
Britain’s minister for Europe says he’s hoping European Union leaders enter talks on the U.K. government’s latest Brexit deal in a “fair spirit,” otherwise the country will leave the bloc at the end of the month without an agreement.
Christopher Pincher called the British government’s new Brexit proposal “a good, fair and reasonable compromise” that presents a “broad landing zone” for talks that would enable the U.K. to leave the 28-member bloc in an “orderly and friendly way” on Oct. 31.
Pincher was speaking Friday after talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
Key European leaders have already said they consider that the measures British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed on Thursday fall far short of the concessions needed to forge a deal.