Published On: Tue, Aug 27th, 2019

Brexit news: Juncker set for crunch talks with Boris TODAY – ‘We stand ready’ | UK | News

The two leaders will hold crunch talks this afternoon in an effort to break the Brexit deadlock and avoid a no-deal divorce. The European Commission President has vowed to listen to the Prime Minister’s plans to avoid customs checks on the Irish border after Brexit. Talks come as Mr Juncker returns to work after undergoing emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.

This forced the eurocrat to miss the G7 summit, where Mr Johnson held Brexit talks with Donald Tusk, the European Council’s president.

The Prime Minister and EU chief will speak on the telephone, in what is their second discussion in recent months.

A European Commission spokeswoman said: “This is the second time the two leaders have the opportunity to speak.

“It will certainly an opportunity to touch base after the G7 discussions.

“More generally, we have been saying we stand ready to engage constructively with the UK on any concrete proposals that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement.

“It is exactly in this spirit of constructiveness and engagement that the two will speak later in the afternoon.”

The Prime Minister has warned EU leaders that they must show a willingness to scrap the backstop in order to make a Brexit deal possible.

Mr Johnson’s chief negotiator will tomorrow follow up the talks by meeting members of Michel Barnier’s Article 50 task force.

David Frost will hold “technical-level” talks with the Commission and is expected to meet deputy negotiator Stephanie Riso.

He may also meet other senior eurocrats but the agenda is still be worked on, according to the Commission.

“Other meetings might be scheduled, the agenda is still developing,” the spokeswoman said.

UK sources say discussions will centre around the Prime Minister’s recent talks with Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Brussels is hoping on a breakthrough on the backstop but claims the Government is yet to put forward any proposals to avoid customs checks.

Commission officials are have said British plans would quickly become the “basis for anything we would analyse and look into”.

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman this morning said he was seeking “changes to the backstop”.

She said: “We have made clear we are seeking changes to the backstop.”

Speaking at the G7 summit yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “It is the job of everyone in Parliament to get things done. It’s what our friends and partners on the other side of the Channel want. They want it over.

“If you talk to our friends as I have done over the last few weeks, they are very enthusiastic about getting on with the future.

“They regard Brexit now as an encumbrance: they want to talk about a new partnership, ways we can work together in trade and security.”

Mij Rahman, the head of Europe for the Eurasia Group, said the EU is manoeuvring to ensure it cannot be blamed for a no-deal Brexit.

He said: “The EU will engage in this process earnestly but also tactically so they can’t be blamed for no deal should the effort fail.”

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