EU sceptical new Brexit deal can be struck by Oct 31

Activists display a model of Big Ben and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in central London.
Activists display a model of Big Ben and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in central London.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - A senior European source poured cold water on Wednesday (Sept 4) on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's hopes of negotiating a new Brexit agreement with EU leaders next month before Britain leaves the bloc.

Amid political chaos in London, Johnson has suggested that he could seek a new or revised withdrawal agreement when he attends the Oct 17 and 18 European Council leaders' summit in Brussels.

But the EU official noted that the leaders had delegated the task of negotiating with London to the European Commission, which has appointed a Brexit task force under senior official Michel Barnier.

"Leaders have never negotiated directly with the UK PM on Brexit. In line with the treaty, UK is not even present when the EU27 Leaders discuss Brexit," the official told AFP after a meeting of EU ambassadors.

"The assumption that in a space of a few days a proposal could be made, negotiated, endorsed by the summit and ratified by EP (European Parliament) and UK Parliament by end-October seems like a rather heroic assumption, to say the least," he said.