Angela Merkel warns UK Brexit deal 'unlikely' without compromise

Brexit - report doing the rounds is PM Johnson is preparing for exit talks to collapse

At the heart of Tuesday's political drama was an early morning phone call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Johnson, regarding the UK's suggestion to have two borders around Northern Ireland - turning the existing (invisible) border with the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member, into a formal customs border (albeit with physical checks and infrastructure some distance from the border itself), with a regulatory border in the Irish Sea, allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the EU's "single market".

The EU has been consistent in saying that in a no-deal scenario, the questions over citizens' rights, Britain's divorce bill and the Irish border will need to be sorted out before discussions over the future trading relationship begins.

Since Johnson's appointment as prime minister, European Union officials have privately acknowledged that the British government's strategy is to pin responsibility for a no-deal Brexit onto them.

Britain has been trying for more than three years to find a way to deliver on the result of a 2016 referendum and end its nearly five-decade involvement in the European project.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, European Union, addresses the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in NY. Johnson has been rushing to strike a deal ahead of the October 31 deadline for leaving the bloc.

In Berlin, Ms Merkel's office said it would not comment "on such confidential discussions".

Neither the German chancellery nor the European Commission confirmed the contents of the Johnson-Merkel call.

But he told reporters the pair had a "frank exchange" - diplomatic speak for a disagreement.

"Boris Johnson, what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game", he wrote on Twitter.

Talks between Frost and junior European Union officials were to begin later Tuesday, then chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier was to meet Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney in the evening.

Mr Johnson will hope to gain concessions from his Irish counterpart Mr Varadkar during in-person talks anticipated later this week.

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The source added: "If this represents a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible, not just now but for ever".

Johnson, meanwhile, has urged the bloc to compromise.

The call came as the Government released its latest readiness plans for a no-deal Brexit, including a commitment for a "significant increase" in border agents and a new helpline to aid businesses prepare for the UK's exit from the bloc.

On Tuesday, Britain published more details of its plans for a scenario where there is no deal.

On the markets, the pound slipped to its lowest value against the euro in about a month.

Lord Pentland said following an earlier hearing that there could be "no doubt" that the prime minister had agreed to abide by the law.

Mr Mr Johnson, who took over from Theresa May in July, has been accused of political manoeuvring before calling a snap general election to strengthen his position in parliament.

Johnson unveiled his new plan last week aimed at keeping Britain's border with European Union member Ireland free-flowing after Brexit - a crucial issue in the divorce talks between Brussels and London.

They said the United Kingdom was not willing to move away from the principle of providing a consent mechanism for Northern Ireland or the plan for leaving the customs union, and if the EU did not accept those principles, "that will be that" and the plan moving forward would be an "obstructive" strategy towards Brussels.

"It also made clear that they are willing to torpedo the Good Friday Agreement".

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