EU insists for more concessions by the UK to agree on Brexit deal

Unveiling government plan, Queen Elizabeth says priority is to exit on 31 October

A deal between the EU and the UK on Brexit is still far away as diplomats indicated the Union wanted more concessions from PM Boris Johnson, which makes signing an agreement this week unlikely, news wires reported. Johnson claims he wants to strike an exit deal at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday to allow an orderly departure on 31 October but if an agreement is not possible he will lead the UK out of the Union without a deal, although parliament has passed a law saying he cannot do so.

EU politicians such as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said a deal was possible, but that much more work was needed. EU diplomats remain pessimistic about the chances of Johnson's hybrid customs proposal for the Irish border riddle. As EU ministers meet in Luxembourg ahead of the leaders' summit, Johnson's planned legislative agenda was read out by Queen Elizabeth at the state opening of parliament.

The priority of Britain's government is to leave the EU on 31 October, Queen Elizabeth said on Monday. In a speech to parliament, which sets out the legislative agenda for the government, the queen set out Johnsons plan to “work toward a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation”.

But with an election on the horizon, many of his other measures, which see increased spending on the health service and tougher sentencing for serious offenders, are unlikely to pass through parliament, making the speech more of a warm-up for the new poll.

If Johnson is unable to clinch a deal, an acrimonious divorce could follow'. The main sticking point remains the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland: how to prevent it becoming a backdoor into the EU after Brexit without erecting controls that could undermine the 1998 peace agreement that largely ended three decades of sectarian violence.

To get a done deal, Johnson must master the complexities of the Irish border before getting the approval of Europes biggest powers and then sell any deal to the parliament in which he has no majority and which he suspended unlawfully last month'. The details of Johnson’s proposals have not been published but are essentially a compromise in which Northern Ireland is formally in the UK's customs union but also informally in the EU's customs union.

The main sticking point from the EU side is customs. The EU is worried it would be impossible to ensure goods entering Northern Ireland do not end up in the EU and is concerned about the complexity of a system for charging tariffs on goods moved between Britain and Northern Ireland.

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