The EU’s chief negotiator has said that Boris Johnson’s newest and final Brexit proposals are simply ‘repackaging the bad ideas that have already been floated’ – and accepting them would be ‘nearly impossible’.
Guy Verhofstadt told Channel 4 News that his doubts were compounded by leaks from No.10 which suggested there is a communications plan to blame the EU for a failure to reach a deal.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, he also said he doubted whether the Northern Ireland Assembly would be in place to approve the deal.
Asked if he is willing to compromise, he said: “The question is not if you want to compromise – we have made a compromise, that was the Withdrawal Agreement.
“The question is: is this a serious compromise? And we have serious doubts about that, certainly after the leak of a paper, a document, by Downing Street to the Tory MPs to blame the European Union directly.
“If there is a Tory document saying that they have to blame the European Union then it’s obvious that that is the purpose.”
He said Johnson’s proposal is the “opposite” of a backstop.
“The backstop is in fact a safeguard that is a type of insurance that you never hope to use,” he continued. “That’s a backstop. And this is quite the opposite, what is proposed. It’s temporary, so it’s not for a long period.”
He added that the proposal depends on the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly – which hasn’t sat for three years and “was never in place”.
“And there are serious doubts that it will be in place in the coming years,” he said.
Asked whether these issues prevent the EU from reaching a deal, he said: “On this element it’s very difficult – and nearly impossible.
“Because it’s mainly repackaging the bad ideas that have already been floated in the past.”
He said that any next steps on extending Article 50 or the UK leaving without a deal would be “a decision to be taken in London”.