Brexit: EU prepares for no deal amid claims Boris Johnson has ‘no intention’ of renegotiating
‘A no deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario’
Downing Street said Mr Johnson wants to negotiate a new deal but warned that the EU must “change its stance” to secure an agreement.
Despite the prime minister’s public insistence that he wants a deal, European diplomats now believe that Mr Johnson’s “central scenario” is to crash out without a deal, following a meeting between his top Europe adviser, David Frost, and senior EU figures.
Mr Frost is reported to have sought discussions on future talks after the UK crashes out of the bloc on 31 October, in a sign that Mr Johnson is serious about his “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit on time.
“It was clear UK does not have another plan,” a senior EU diplomat told reporters in Brussels.
“No intention to negotiate, which would require a plan. A no deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario.”
Mr Johnson has told the EU repeatedly that parliament will not accept the “undemocratic” backstop negotiated by Ms May, which was designed to act as a safety net to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
But his top EU aide was said to have told officials in Brussels that a technological solution - the UK’s preferred option – “would not be ready now for Brexit”.
“Even if EU gave up the backstop there is no alternative,” a diplomat said.
“That message has now gone loud and clear to capitals, it was useful to hear it from horse’s mouth,” the EU source said. “Reality is sinking in.”
Recent warnings from the prime minister’s top aide Dominic Cummings that a no deal cannot be prevented have also been heard clearly in Europe, amid a toughening up of rhetoric from government ministers.
The Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, must seek a new “mandate” from member states if he wants to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
In an article on Sunday, he warned Mr Barnier that no deal was “coming down the tracks” and said the “political realities have changed” since negotiations began.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The PM wants to meet EU leaders and negotiate a new deal – one that abolishes the anti-democratic backstop.
“We will throw ourselves into the negotiations with the greatest energy and the spirit of friendship and we hope the EU will rethink its current refusal to make any changes to the withdrawal agreement.
“The fact is the withdrawal agreement has been rejected by parliament three times and will not pass in its current form so if the EU wants a deal, it needs to change its stance.
“Until then, we will continue to prepare to leave the EU on 31 October.”