BRUSSELS—Brexit negotiations between the European Union and United Kingdom descended into acrimony Tuesday as both sides blamed each other for scuppering any chance of reaching a deal later this month.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of trying to win “some stupid blame game” after Downing Street issued briefings against Brussels and Berlin.
Senior British officials accused the German Chancellor Angela Merkel of torpedoing the possibility of getting an agreement before Oct. 31 by insisting that Northern Ireland must remain in the EUs customs union.
Giving an account of a Tuesday morning phone call between the two leaders, a UK Government source speaking on the condition of anonymity said: “If this represents a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible, not just now, but ever.”
A German government spokesman confirmed the conversation took place, but declined to go into details. A source close to the Chancellor said she remains determined to work until the last minute to secure a Brexit deal.
The briefings from Downing Street prompted a furious response from European figures who said the British had deliberately tabled unworkable plans for solving the Irish border in order to blame the EU for the breakdown of talks.
Polish born Tusk, who chairs the regular meetings of EU leaders in Brussels, reacted by launching an unusually personal attack on the UKs Prime Minister.
Addressing Johnson, he said: “At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You dont want a deal, you dont want an extension, you dont want to revoke, quo vadis?”
Tusk was supported by Irelands deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, who said his comments “reflect the frustration across the EU and the enormity of whats at stake for us all”.
Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of the German parliaments foreign affairs committee, said: “Frankly a deal on the basis of Johnsons proposals has been unrealistic from the beginning and yet the EU has been willing to engage. Blaming others for the current situation is not fair play.”
Johnson was also criticized by some lawmakers on home turf with the opposition Labour partys Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer calling the move “yet another cynical attempt by No 10 to sabotage the negotiations”.
He added: “Boris Johnson will never take responsibility for his own failure to put forward a credible deal. His strategy from day one has been for a No Deal Brexit.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, said: “The UK Governments attempt to shift the blame for the Brexit fiasco to anyone but themselves – today its Merkel – is pathetically transparent.”
However, the Prime Minister was supported by eurosceptic politicians who accused Merkel and the EU of setting unacceptable terms that would effectively separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, said: “No British government could ever accept Germany telling us that part of the UK has to stay in the EU. The choice now is clRead More – Source