LONDON — If Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit proposals are all he has to offer, then the British prime minister “doesn’t want an agreement,” David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, told reporters following a meeting with Johnson in No. 10 Downing Street.
Johnson “has repeatedly stated that there has been this decision that the U.K. will exit the EU on 31 October,” Sassoli said Tuesday. “But he gave absolutely no indication” that he has plans to get a deal “relaunched.”
If Johnson’s ideas are “limited” to what he presented to Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, “then he doesn’t want an agreement,” Sassoli added.
In a statement, Sassoli 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.”
Sassoli met with Johnson for “a frank and non-bureaucratic” 40-minute meeting at a time of mounting tension between the EU and the U.K. on Brexit.
Last week, Johnson proposed a customs and regulatory arrangement to manage the Ireland-Northern Ireland border in place of the backstop provision that was negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May. It involves creating a customs border which would be managed by as yet unclear systems away from the border, and a regulatory border down the Irish Sea, all underpinned by consent from the Northern Ireland Assembly.
But the plan didn’t please many in Brussels.
European Council President Donald Tusk accused Johnson on Tuesday of playing a “stupid blame game” on Brexit.
Sassoli said that during the meeting, Johnson didn’t propose “anything new” and “insisted” on a customs arrangement in Ireland as being the main solution to Brexit.
“Johnson kept on saying that the problem was linked to customs on the Irish island, and that if we solve this, we will solve everything,” Sassoli said. “No, we have not resolved everything, we have not resolved anything at all.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson “stated his preference for leaving the EU with a deal.”