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  • Johnson needs enough time for EU leaders to approve it at the conference in Brussels

    Johnson needs enough time for EU leaders to approve it at the conference in Brussels | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 October 2019
Opinion

Boris Johnson spoke about the possibility of a hard Brexit if there is no agreement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sunday his cabinet that a last-minute agreement was still possible while both sides continue intense talks to reach a Brexit deal.

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A spokesman for Johnson's office said that "there is still a lot of work to be done and that we must be prepared to leave the EU, even without an agreement, on Oct.31."

Although Britain said the latest talks had been "constructive" and that there would be more talks on Monday, the possibility of a so-called hard Brexit grows with Johnson's stance of doing everything in his power to get Britain out by the end of October.

On the other side, the European Commission said in a statement that discussions would continue on Monday and that EU negotiator Michel Barnier would provide an update to member states at a meeting on Tuesday in Luxembourg.

Even with a more accurate proposal in hand, Johnson would need enough time for EU leaders to approve it at the conference in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Otherwise his political future would be seriously threatened.

In addition, the British PM would have to convince a deeply divided parliament to ratify the agreement, perhaps in an extraordinary session on Oct. 19.

EU diplomats are not so optimistic and accept that "there is little chance that a text will be ready for the gathering in Brussels, if the talks go well, we could say that there is progress, but more time is needed to continue".

Yet if a deal can be agreed, it will be rushed through Parliament before the Oct. 31 deadline, with both the House of Commons and the House of Lords sitting through the night.

Johnson lost influence over Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc on Sept. 9 when a law came into force demanding he delays Brexit until 2020 unless he can make a deal is in place by Oct. 19.

It’s unclear what Johnson’s next move over Brexit will be as the law obliges him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal, however, the U.K. and the EU are struggling to reach a last-minute agreement before Britain's planned departure still scheduled to happen Oct. 31.

The British parliament has rejected three times the withdrawal deal agreed between the last government and the EU, deepening a three-year crisis that threatens Britain's status as one of the world's pre-eminent financial centers and a stable destination for foreign investors.

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