UK and EU step up Brexit talks to twice a week
LONDON — Brexit talks will take place twice a week during September, with just two months to go before the October 31 deadline, according to Downing Street.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement the boost in activity was part of his “energetic and determined” approach to scrapping the controversial Northern Irish backstop.
“While I have been encouraged with my discussions with EU leaders over recent weeks that there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop, it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo,” he said. “The increase in meetings and discussions is necessary if we are to have a chance of agreeing a deal for when we leave on October 31, no ifs no buts.”
His announcement came after Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost met his EU counterparts on Wednesday. One EU diplomat said the meetings next week will take place on Tuesday, to update negotiators on the latest events during August, and on Thursday, to talk about preparations for no-deal exit.
The two sides have agreed to discuss a number of issues at future meetings including the backstop mechanism to keep the Northern Irish border open in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A European Commission spokesman said: “David Frost has asked to meet the Commission twice a week to discuss the U.K.’s withdrawal. We have always said that our doors remain open and we have demonstrated our willingness to work 24/7 throughout this long process.
“We expect the U.K. to come forward with concrete proposals as President Juncker made clear to Prime Minister Johnson earlier this week.”
Johnson has vowed to leave the EU without a deal if necessary, and has been accused of trying to bypass his opponents in the House of Commons by suspending parliament for almost a month.
Last week the British prime minister travelled to Berlin for talks with Angela Merkel and to Paris to see Emmanuel Macron. Both suggested he produce proposals within 30 days that could serve as an alternative to the backstop, although Macron insisted a different deal would not be struck in that time.
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