Britain has yet to provide “legal and operational” proposals that could break the impasse over its departure from the European Union, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday.
“We are still ready to work on any new legal and operational proposal from the EU,” Barnier told reporters on arriving for talks with European lawmakers on the latest developments on Brexit.
Barnier declined to comment on the political crisis in Britain, where parliament resumed on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled Prime Minister Boris Johnson unlawfully suspended it.
Johnson insists he will take Britain out of the EU on Oct.31 with or without a deal to manage the fallout.
Britain submitted its fourth technical paper to the EU this week to detail its proposals on customs arrangements after Brexit, diplomatic sources told Reuters, as London seeks to replace the contentious Irish border backstop in the stalled divorce treaty.
But the EU says London’s ideas so far – on food and animal checks, customs and regulatory controls, checks on manufactured goods and market surveillance, among others – fall short and are not acceptable as alternatives.
The backstop is anathema for many in Britain as it could tie the country to the EU’s trading rules for years to maintain an open Irish border and at the same time ensure the necessary controls between the bloc and Britain after they split.
Philippe Lamberts, a liberal EU lawmaker from Belgium, spared Johnson no criticism as he arrived for the closed-door meeting with Barnier.
“He’s not seeking a solution because a solution would mean first finding a compromise with the European Union, then building compromise in (the UK parliament) Westminster to pass an agreement,” Lamberts told reporters.
“So, if you really want to achieve that maybe you do not start by confronting people the way he does,” he said after Johnson goaded his rivals on Wednesday to either bring down the government or get out of the way to allow him to deliver Brexit.
“So maybe his strategy is another one and I believe it has been all along…to provoke a no-deal Brexit but in a way that would allow him to blame others – either Brussels or Westminster.”