European Parliament president says there has been 'no progress' in Brexit negotiations after meeting Boris Johnson

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli has said there has been "no progress" on a Brexit deal following a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

After the pair met in 10 Downing Street, the newly elected president said: "I came here in the confident hope of hearing proposals that could take negotiations forward.

"However, I must note that there has been no progress."

But a No 10 spokesperson said Mr Johnson reiterated to Mr Sassoli that the UK will leave without a deal on October 31 if a new one is not struck.

The spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister set out how there is little time remaining to negotiate a new agreement, and so we need to move quickly and work together to agree a deal."

Mr Johnson is to hold tense talks this week with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, in a last minute bid to win a Brexit deal.

The two leaders spoke by telephone for about 40 minutes amid accusations from No 10 that the EU was making it "essentially impossible" for Britain to leave with an agreement.

"Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal," a spokesman said. "They hope to meet in person later this week."

But the Taoiseach said getting a Brexit deal by the EU summit next week will be "very difficult."

Mr Varadkar said Ireland and the EU would not accept an agreement at “any cost”.

“There are some fundamental objectives that haven’t changed for the past three years and we need them guaranteed,” he told RTE news.

“I think it is going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly."

Mr Johnson will hope to gain concessions from Mr Varadker during in-person talks anticipated later this week.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned a deal by next week will be difficult. Credit: PA

The phone call with Mr Varadkar came after the President of the European Council launched a stinging attack on the prime minister, accusing him of putting the "future of Europe and the UK" at stake.

Donald Tusk also suggested the Prime Minister is not serious about a negotiated exit from the EU, claiming the PM does not want a Brexit deal.The former Polish prime minister's statement came as he responded to comments from Downing Street that Brussels is making a deal "impossible".

Taking to Twitter, Mr Tusk wrote: "What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game.

"At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people.

"You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?"

"Quo vadis" is a Latin phrase meaning "where are you marching?".

His tweet appears to imply that Mr Johnson is seeking a no-deal Brexit.

The President of the European Council has launched a stinging attack on the PM, accusing him of putting the 'future' at stake. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, the House of Commons has been prorogued until Monday, when the Queen's speech will open a new parliamentary session.

Black Rod Sarah Clarke, the senior House of Lords officer tasked with leading the prorogation ceremony, arrived in the Commons to request MPs attend the Lords.

The Commons chamber appeared to contain approximately 30 MPs, who were led out by Speaker John Bercow.

This stood in contrast to the stormy scenes during the ceremony to prorogue Parliament last month, a decision which was later overturned and ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Mr Tusk's comments follow a call between the PM and Angela Merkel, in which a Number 10 source says the German Chancellor had made it clear that the EU had taken a "new position" following the tabling of the latest UK plan last week.

Ms Merkel reportedly told Mr Johnson his Brexit offer to the EU is unacceptable unless Northern Ireland remains in the customs union "forever".

And according to the Downing Street source, "France is saying the same thing".

The Number 10 source said: "If this represents a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible, not just now but ever.

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

Downing Street refused to comment on where the "Number 10 source" quotes came from regarding call.

"I would describe it as a frank exchange. The Prime Minister set out that the UK had made what we believe to be a significant offer but if we are to make future progress then the EU will need to compromise itself."

The spokesman for Boris Johnson said the talks were now at a "critical point".

If reports of the conversation are true, then Germany and France have rejected the Prime Minister's backstop solution.

The backstop is the EU's insurance policy which it says protects the integrity of the customs union by keeping the UK inside after Brexit.

But Mr Johnson says it undemocratically keeps the UK inside the constraints of the EU for an indefinite period of time without an exit mechanism.

His proposal of a time-limited alternative was initially welcomed by the EU, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying he would examine the text.

But, as a Downing Street source reportedly told Sky News, the German chancellor has now "made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely and she thinks the EU has a veto on us leaving the customs union."

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, the minister responsible for no-deal Brexit preparations, told the House of Commons the government had put forward a "fair and reasonable compromise".

He was speaking after the government published its "no-deal readiness" report.

Michael Gove is the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations. Credit: PA

The document includes details of the Government's attempts to make sure that citizens and businesses are ready for Brexit at the end of the month.

It reiterates that the Government would prefer to leave the EU with a deal and says it "will work to the final hour to achieve one".

Mr Gove told the Commons: "In setting out these proposals, we've moved - it is now time for the EU to move too.

"If it does, then there is still every chance we can leave with a new deal.

"However, if the EU does not move this Government is prepared to leave without a deal on October 31."

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP - the party propping up the Government in the Commons - said Ms Merkel's reported comments "reveal the real objective of Dublin and the European Union".

She claimed the EU is "not interested in a negotiated outcome" and said backstop's only purpose is to "trap Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union forever".

And her deputy Nigel Dodds echoed her comments, saying the backstop is "a never ending trap for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom".

"We will never accept that and I think that the attitude that has been displayed by the EU and member states is utterly unacceptable."

He accused the EU of trying to break up the United Kingdom with its comments and said "that will never happen".

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the comments were a "cynical" attempt by No 10 to "sabotage" negotiations with the EU.

He claimed Mr Johnson's proposals "had massive gaps in them" and were "designed to fail".

He added: "Instead of adjusting the position and answering those questions they collapsed talks down six days after they put proposals on the table

"The only conclusion is that the government put down proposals that were designed to fail."