Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.42 6 Aug 2019


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British cabinet minister Michael Gove has accused the EU of "refusing to negotiate" over Brexit.

He was speaking amid reports suggesting there's currently no prospect of fresh talks between the UK and the EU.

Boris Johnson's government has insisted there can be no deal unless the backstop to avoid a hard border in Ireland can be removed.

The EU, however, has repeatedly insisted the backstop is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement and will not be renegotiated.

According to media reports, European diplomats now believe a no-deal Brexit now appears to be Boris Johnson's 'central scenario' and he has no intention to negotiate a fresh agreement.

European Commission spokesperson Annika Breidthardt today refused to comment on the reports.

However, she stressed: "European Union position remains unchanged... the deal we have achieved is the best possible deal.

"The Commission does remain available over the coming weeks should the United Kingdom wish to hold talks and clarify its position in more details."

'Deeply saddened'

Speaking to BBC today, Michael Gove - who has been put in charge of no-deal planning in the UK - claimed the EU is refusing to take part in fresh talks.

He argued: "I'm deeply saddened that the EU now seem to be refusing to negotiate with the UK.

"The prime minister has been clear: he wants to negotiate a good deal with the European Union.

"One thing is clear: the old deal that was negotiated has failed to pass the House of Commons three times now, so we do need a new approach.

"Whatever happens, while we remain ready and willing to negotiate, the EU must appreciate that we're leaving on October 31st, deal or no-deal."

Speaking in Belfast earlier, Leo Varadkar reiterated that he has invited Boris Johnson to talks in Dublin about Brexit and Northern Ireland "without preconditions".

The Taoiseach said no deal is becoming more likely as time goes by – but warned that anyone hoping it will bring the stand-off to a swift close is mistaken.

Main image: File photo of Michael Gove walking in Downing Street, London. Picture by: Alastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

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Boris Johnson Brexit Leo Varadkar Michael Gove No Deal Brexit

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