Talks between Britain and the European Union over London’s departure from the 28-nation bloc ended Wednesday without an agreement, and without an idea of when negotiators may try again.
Negotiators have met daily since mid-September, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised an alternative deal that he expected to break a deadlock over the Irish backstop. The proposal, which called for customs stations on each side of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border, failed to win over support from the EU.
British Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay has called for more intensive talks with his EU counterparts before an Oct. 17 summit on the issue, which precedes Britain’s Oct. 31 departure deadline. Outgoing EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will address European Parliament Wednesday about recent negotiation efforts.
Johnson plans to meet with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Thursday and call for British lawmakers to meet on Saturday, Oct. 19, for a rare weekend session.
“There are some fundamental objectives that haven’t changed for the past three years and we need them guaranteed,” Varadkar said. “I think it is going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly.
“Essentially what the U.K. has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister [Theresa] May’s government over two years and sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying: ‘That’s a concession.’ And of course, it isn’t really.”
Johnson has vowed to leave the EU on schedule, on Oct. 31. Previously, he’s said the departure will happen regardless of a deal, but British lawmakers have forced him, through the Benn Act, to request a delay if no deal is present by Oct. 19, two days after the summit.
“Deal or no deal, but no delay,” Johnson reiterated on Tuesday. “It’s time to get Brexit done and get on with delivering on Britain’s priorities: safer streets, better hospitals and improved schools.”