EU's Donald Tusk, British PM Boris Johnson trade barbs over Brexit ahead of meeting at G-7

VIDEO: REUTERS

BIARRITZ, France (DPA) - European Council President Donald Tusk and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traded barbs over Brexit on Saturday (Aug 24), ahead of a planned meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 7 (G-7).

Tusk ruled out a harmonious Brexit without a withdrawal agreement, saying the European Union was ready to hold "serious talks" with Johnson, but "the one thing I will not cooperate on is no deal."

Tusk added that he still hoped that Johnson would "not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal."

The two are set to meet on Sunday.

Johnson responded that he also didn't want to leave the EU without a deal, but said that the bloc had to allow him to remove the controversial backstop measure guaranteeing an open Irish border.

"If Donald Tusk doesn't want to go down as 'Mr No-Deal Brexit,' then I hope that point will be borne in mind by him too," said Johnson.

Fears of a no-deal Brexit have grown ahead of Oct 31 as the European Commission has said that it sees no basis to reopen negotiations.

 
 

Johnson wants to cut out the backstop provision negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, which would keep Britain in the EU customs area and align Northern Ireland with some key EU market regulations unless and until long-term alternative arrangements were made.

The EU and the Irish government have insisted that it is needed to shore up a 1998 peace agreement that ended almost 30 years of civil strife in Northern Ireland, where many in the Catholic minority still favour unification with the Republic of Ireland.