Similarly, it said “the letter’s suggestion that two separate legal, political, economic, and monetary jurisdictions already exist on the island and can be managed with an open border is misleading.”
Such words left a huge rift between the sides, just as Johnson was preparing to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday. His trips should culminate in more talks at a summit of Group of 7 leaders this weekend in Biarritz, France.
On a rare note of guarded optimism, Merkel suggested Tuesday that a “practical solution” could still be found for the Irish border issue, making the backstop superfluous. But she said finding such a solution wouldn’t require reopening negotiations on the current Brexit deal.
Johnson has vowed to leave the E.U. “come what may” on Oct. 31, with or without a deal aimed at softening the transition.
To that effect, U.K. Secretary of State Steve Barclay said Tuesday that the diplomatic corps “will only go to the (EU) meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours.” He said that would free up time for ministers and staff “to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.”
But Johnson is facing rising criticism of his Brexit strategy at home. A leaked report showed that the British government is preparing for widespread shortages of food, fuel and medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, vowed late Monday to do “everything necessary” to prevent the U.K. from leaving the EU without a deal. That includes calling a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s government and, if it succeeds, competing in the ensuing general election with a pledge to hold a second public vote on Brexit.
After a 2016 referendum in which the public voted to leave the EU, May spent more than two years negotiating a Brexit divorce agreement with the bloc. It was repeatedly rejected by British lawmakers, primarily because of concerns about the Irish border.