Two EU officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed the UK now appeared to be trying to bully the European Union into concessions, according to Bloomberg. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have toughened their stance on Brexit during their Tory leadership campaign, including Brussels loosening their stance on the Irish backstop. Both candidates have threatened to take the UK out of the bloc on October 31 without an agreement in place.
Mr Johnson has repeated Britain will leave the EU with or without a deal on that date, while Mr Hunt is prepared to give Brussels until the end of September to relent on its stance, or then resort to accelerating no deal Brexit plans.
At the last debate of the campaign trail last night, both ruled out leaving the EU with the current Irish backstop agreement in place.
The UK’s next Prime Minister will be named on July 23 following voting by more than 160,000 Conservative Party members across the UK.
But they will have just over three months to deliver Brexit by the extended Halloween deadline.
Both candidates have vowed to return to Brussels to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement – particularly looking at scrapping the Irish backstop in its current form – but the EU has insisted this will not happen under any circumstances.
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9.29am update: Farage launches blistering attack against von der Leyen
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Brexit Party her: “What you have seen from Ursula von der Leyen today is an attempt is for the eu to take control of every aspect of our lives.
“She wants to build an uncivilised, undemocratic, updated form of communism that will render national state Parliaments, where the state control everything and where nation state Parliaments will have no relevance at all.
“From our perspective, in some ways, I’m really rather pleased because you have just made Brexit a lot more popular in the United Kingdom – thank God we are leaving.”
9.13am update: Barclay in huge Brexit warning to Barnier during fiery meeting
Brexit Secretary told Michel Barnier the withdrawal agreement is dead during a bad-tempered meeting as Brussels prepares for “brutal” talks with the next Prime Minister.
Mr Barclay left the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator astonished and dismayed in a “confrontational” exchange last Tuesday.
A senior EU diplomat told The Times: “He told Barnier that the withdrawal agreement was dead — not once but five times.
“If this is what is coming then we will be heading for no deal very quickly.”
One senior diplomat close to talks claimed it was the most hostile encounter since the EU referendum in June 2016, adding Mr Barclay had seemed to tear up the previously constructive approach taken by Theresa May”.
The diplomat said: “It worked like a megaphone but it has hardened attitudes.
“It is not the smart thing to do if a new Prime Minister is serious about getting a withdrawal agreement across the line.
“I guess Barclay is applying for a job in the Johnson cabinet.”
9.04am update: Grieve’s no deal Brexit warning to Johnson and Hunt – ‘Administration will fall’
Dominic Grieve has warned the next Prime Minister their Government will collapse if they seek a no deal Breixt.
The former Attorney General and senior Tory achnolged blocking a no deal “might be quite difficult” on a technical level – meaning that bringing down the government could be the only option..
In a warning to the leadership candidates, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If a Government persists in trying to carry out a no-deal Brexit, I think that administration is going to fall.”
The senior Tory suggested current minister facing the prospect of losing their jobs under the next Prime Minister would join him in attempts to prevent a no deal Brexit.
Mr Grieve added: “By the end of next week there are going to be more Conservatives who have indicated very clearly that no-deal is unacceptable and I notice that many of them will no longer be on the front bench.”
8.44am update: Von der Leyen unveils plot for united states of Europe in bid to rule EU
Ursula von der Leyen today set out her plans for a united states of Europe in one final effort to convince MEPs to support her bid for the European Commission presidency.
Ms von der Leyen, a German defence minister, told MEPs she is ready to “fight” for Europe after becoming the first woman nominated to lead the Commission.
She told MEPs, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, that the EU must take “bold steps together” in order to fight climate change, authoritarian regimes and protectionism.
The 60-year-old added: “The founding fathers and mothers of Europe from ruins and ashes of the world war created a fantastic new world of peace with a stronger common market.
“Today is is clear we are going to have to fight, rise up for this Europe of ours, the whole world is called up upon.”
8.31am update: Pound slumping to near six-month low against US dollar
The pound has plummeted to a near six-month low against the US dollar as continued uncertainty over Brexit continue to have a huge impact.
Sterling lost 0.5 percent overnight to fall to $1.2515 – a slip below $1.2439 would take the currency to its lowest since early January.
The pound is under pressure as investors get nervous about the prospect of eurosceptic Boris Johnson winning the Conservative party leadership contest and becoming the next British prime minister
Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities, said: “The euro has been weighed by the long struggling pound, which in turn is likely to suffer from Brexit-related woes until the Conservative party leader is decided next week.”
8.29am update: Johnson not committing to bringing down net immigration after Brexit
Boris Johnson has refused to commit to reduce net immigration post-Brexit as he faced off with Jeremy Hunt in the final head-to-head debate of the leadership contest.
The contenders to become the next Prime Minister agreed that the vote to leave the European Union was a message to “control” immigration, but Mr Johnson did not say how he would achieve it.
When quizzed on the issue, he said: “I’m not going to get into some numbers game with you.
Mr Hunt pointed to his time as health secretary to describe how he would bring down numbers.
He said: ”It’s boosting the education and skills levels of our own people that’s the right way to do it.”
8.27am update: EU on verge of buckling with more concessions to avoid no deal Brexit – report
The European Union could offer the UK a package of new measures to help either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt get their Brexit deal through Parliament in a desperate bid to avoid a chaotic no deal scenario, Brussels diplomats have revealed.
Two EU officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Bloomberg the UK now appeared to be trying to bully the EU into concessions as the two candidates to become the next Prime Minister toughen their stance, including Brussels loosening their stance on the Irish backstop.
Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt last night insisted the Irosh backstop cannot be part of any Brexit deal in its current format, and that tweaking it wouldn’t be enough.
The candidates to become the UK’s next Prime Minister have both said they will return to Brussels to renovate the withdrawal agreement, but the EU has insisted this will not happen.
However, EU officials told Bloomberg there are early talks that would aim to make it more palatable in the UK so either Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt has a chance of getting it ratified by a divided Parliament.
These could include further commitments to look at technological solutions for the Irsh border, making a formal link between achieving a post-Brexit trade deal and the UK divorce settlement of £39billion, offering to make the backstop apply only to Northern Ireland rather than the whole of the UK, and rewriting the political declaration on future relations.
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