Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including day two of the supreme court hearing to decide if Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension of parliament was lawful
Barnier says even with no deal, UK and EU will still have Brexit problems to resolve
And here are some more extracts from what Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told MEPs in his speech. Some of the extracts I have translated using DeepL.
- Barnier said that, even if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal, the problems at the heart of the Brexit talks would still have to be addressed. He said:
We want this agreement to protect the rights of the 4.5m European citizens in the United Kingdom and British people in the 27 member states.
We want to secure the future for all project leaders who benefit from European funds in the territories. That is why we have decided with the United Kingdom that everything that was decided at 28 should be well paid, to the end, at 28.
We want to ensure peace and stability in Ireland.
And at the end of the day, we want to create the conditions of trust necessary to build our future relationship, as outlined in the political declaration.
If the United Kingdom leaves without agreement, all these issues will not disappear. We will have to resolve them in any event, prior to a future partnership with the United Kingdom.
- He said the EU’s commitment to the backstop was “not ideological” but “totally pragmatic”. He said it was designed to achieve three things.
We do not want a physical border to return to the island of Ireland. We want to protect the Good Friday agreement in all its dimensions.
We must preserve the integrity of the single market.
We want to maintain the “all-island economy” and North-South cooperation provided for in the Good Friday agreement. Our mapping exercise with the British authorities shows how much this north-south cooperation is governed by law, supported by European policies and budgets from the beginning.
He said that UK government had said what it did not like about the backstop, but that that on its own was not enough. The EU needed “legally operational solution”, he said.
- He urged people not to underestimate the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. He said:
I would recommend nobody underestimates the consequences of no-deal for UK first and foremost, but for us as well … The consequences of Brexit are not theoretical. They are considerable.
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The European commission has just released the texts of the speeches by Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier. They are in the original French. English versions should be available later.
‘Very little time remaining’ – Summary of Juncker’s Brexit speech to MEPs
Here is a fuller account of what Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, told the European parliament in his speech earlier. (See 8.17am.)
- Juncker said that the risk of a no-deal Brexit was palpable. He said that there was “very little time remaining” and that he was not sure the UK and the EU could reach a deal. Referring to his meeting with Boris Johnson in Luxembourg on Monday, he said:
The prime minister assured us that he continues to want an agreement. But, whatever happens, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 October with or without an agreement. That is why the risk of a no deal is palpable …
The commission is prepared to work day in day out, morning until night – with a few breaks – to try to find the technical and political solutions we need but I am not sure that we will get there.
There is very little time remaining but what I do know is that we have to keep trying.
- He said whether or not there was a deal would come down to decisions taken by the UK.
- He confirmed that he was open to an alternative to the backstop. But he said that no real progress had been made in the talks with the UK, because they had not tabled an alternative plan. He said:
I said to to Prime Minister Johnson that I had no emotional attachment the safety net, to the backstop, but I stated that I stand by the objectives that it is designed to achieve. That is why I called on the prime minister to come forward with operational proposals, in writing, for practical steps which would allow us to achieve those objectives. Now, until such time as those proposals have been presented, I will not be able to tell you, looking your straight in the eye, that any real progress has been achieved.
- But he also described his talks with Johnson as “in part positive”. He said:
What I can tell you [about the lunch with Johnson] is – and this perhaps runs counter to many press articles that have appeared in the UK – I can tell you that the talks we had were friendly, constructive and in part positive.
- He signalled that the EU would not abandon Ireland as the talks continued. He said:
The EU has shown great unity of purpose, with solidarity with the member states most affected. This unity is our most precious resource and our greatest asset. It will continue to guide me over the next weeks and I’m sure it will continue to guide this house also in the future.
Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader, is speaking in the debate now. He says he thinks the EU and the UK may announce a compromise. But, even without the backstop, this is a very bad deal, he says.
He says there is no trust now. That was illustrated by the behaviour of the “pipsqueak prime minister of Luxembourg”, he says. He says Xavier Bettel, the PM of Luxembourg, set out to “humiliate” Boris Johnson on Monday. And yet Xavier was “greeted like a hero” when he visited President Macron in Paris the following day, Farage says.
He says the only solution is a clean-break Brexit. Then the two sides can have a grown-up conversation about the future, he says.
EU facing ‘more, rather than less, uncertainty’ since Boris Johnson became PM, MEPs told
The European parliament debate was opened by the Finnish European affairs minister Tytti Tuppurainen. She was there to represent the European council, because Finland holds the EU presidency.
She said the EU was facing a “rather bleak situation”. She went on:
In July the UK got a new government and a new prime minister. Unfortunately it is increasingly clear that it has not helped to clarify the situation or the UK’s negotiating position.
When it comes to the most difficult questions – such as the Irish border – the UK has not tabled any new concrete proposals yet.
She said the UK parliament remained divided and the UK government was still insisting on its negotiating red lines.
We are faced with more, rather than less, uncertainty.
And she also said a no-deal Brexit remained “a quite likely outcome”.
Geoffrey Van Orden, the leader of the British Conservatives in the European parliament and a member of the European Conservatives and Reformist Group, is speaking now. He says the UK government wants a deal, but it must leave on 31 October.
He criticises the European parliament’s Brexit steering group, which is headed by Guy Verhofstadt. He says it is not representative of the parliament.
Marco Zanni, the Italian League MEP leader of the far-right Identity and Democracy group in the European parliament, defends Brexit. He says the EU should respect the decision taken by Britain, which has one of the oldest democratic parliaments in the world.
Philippe Lamberts, co-leader of the Greens-European Free Alliance in the European parliament, told MEPs that if the UK requested a Brexit extension, the EU should be willing to grant it.
Guy Verhofstadt, from the liberal Renew group in the European parliament, says Brexit has led to support for the EU going up.
He criticises the way the UK is handling the rights of EU nationals in Britain. There are examples of EU nationals being refused settled status even though they have been living in the country for one or two decades.
He says Boris Johnson likes to compare himself to movie characters, like the Incredible Hulk. But he should choose another role model, Verhofstadt says. He says Johnson should act like the nanny in Mrs Doubtfire.
He says he knows the British worry about the backstop. But if they don’t like it, perhaps they should give it a different name – like the safety net.
He says it would not work if one side could leave unilaterally.
He says some in the UK think that the EU will back down at the last moment. But that
We are not stupid. It means we will not kill our own companies. We will defend our own companies … We will never accept what people call a Singapore by the North Sea.
Verhofstadt says that Brexit has caused deep divisions in the UK. But the EU will not let itself be divided in the same way, he says.
In the debate Iratxe García-Pérez, the head of the socialist group in the European parliament, said that MEPs would be open to the UK holding a second referendum. And she criticised the UK home secretary, Priti Patel, for saying that free movement would end immediately after 31 October.
Manfred Weber, leader of the centre-right EPP group in the European parliament, said in his speech that Brexiters claimed that Brexit would weaken the EU. But three years on, the EU remains strong, he said. He said it was the UK that was losing out, because jobs were leaving.
Barnier says no one should underestimate the costs of a no-deal Brexit.
He says he wants to create the conditions necessary to build a future relationship.
If the UK leaves without a deal, these questions do not disappear. They still remain – issues like peace in Ireland, citizens’ rights, budgetary issues. They would all need to be settled before the UK and the EU could agree a future relationship.
He says, three years after the EU referendum, we should not be “pretending to negotiate”. We need to move forward, he says.
Turning to the future relationship, Barnier says the political declaration opens up a path towards a future relationship of broad cooperation.
He says it currently points towards a free trade agreement. But the text would also allow a closer relationship, he says.
He says the UK wishes to revist the commitments made by Theresa May about maintaining a level playing field after Brexit (ie, remaining aligned to EU regulations.)
Barnier says the level of ambition reached by the EU will depend on the guarantees it gets from the UK, referring to things like social, environmental and competition law.
Barnier says the EU is willing to work “day and night” to get a deal with the UK.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is speaking in the debate now.
He says Ireland is the big problem in the Brexit talks, because that is where Brexit could do most harm.
He says the UK has said what it does not like about the backstop. But is has not proposed an operable alternative.
He gives an example of the problem. Any cattle, or other animals, entering Ireland through Northern Ireland enter the whole of the EU single market. He says the EU has a long memory of potential safety problem (a reference to BSE, presumably). That is why health checks are so important.
Juncker says risk of no deal ‘palpable’ as MEPs debate UK’s departure from EU
Good morning. It is day two of the supreme court hearing to decide if Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension (prorogation) of parliament was lawful, and I’ll be covering the hearing in detail when it starts at 10.30am. Here is our overnight story about yesterday’s hearing.
The UK parliament is not sitting at the moment, but the European parliament is and this morning it has just started a debate on Brexit. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, has just finished his speech. He said that the risk of a no-deal Brexit was “palpable” but that his talks with Boris Johnson on Monday were constructive. He said:
I can tell you that the talks we had were friendly, constructive and, in part, positive.
I will post more from his speech soon.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web, although I will mostly be focusing on the supreme court hearing. I plan to publish a summary when I wrap up.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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