'Ready and willing' to do a Brexit deal, Britain tells EU

Wednesday 07th August 2019 06:08 EDT

Britain is “ready and willing” to do a deal to leave the European Union if Brussels renegotiates the agreement, a senior government source said, denying that a no-deal Brexit was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s central plan. Earlier, Johnson has said Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.

The government source said the EU had to understand that Johnson could not again bring forward the deal that was rejected by Britain’s parliament three times, leading to the resignation of his predecessor Theresa May. “We want a deal. It’s sad that they don’t want to negotiate with us,” the source said. “The fact that the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by large margins by the House of Commons on three occasions means that, if there’s going to be a deal, they have to be prepared to renegotiate. We’re ready and willing to do so.”

The two week old prime minister has taken a hard line with the EU, demanding that it shows willingness to change the deal it agreed with his predecessor before negotiations can restart to secure Britain’s smooth departure from the bloc. Johnson's insistence that Britain is readying preparations to leave without a divorce agreement if Brussels refuses to renegotiate has spooked markets, sent the pound tumbling and prompted some lawmakers to suspect a no-deal Brexit is his ultimate goal.

Johnson's government says the only way to secure a deal would be to ditch the Irish backstop - an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of border controls between EU-member Ireland and Britain’s province of Northern Ireland that were ended by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement May struck in November with the EU says the United Kingdom will remain in a customs union “unless and until” alternative arrangements are found to avoid a hard border. Many British lawmakers oppose being bound to EU rules and customs duties post-Brexit. The EU has repeatedly ruled out renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, and a senior EU diplomat said Britain “does not have another plan”.

A report cited EU diplomats as saying they believed a no-deal Brexit was government’s central scenario. “No intention to negotiate, which would require a plan, A no-deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario.”

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