The serving President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has called on the British government to publish its Brexit plan in full after the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson was accused by Ireland’s prime minister of misleading parliament over the impact on the Irish border.
The move came on a dramatic day during which Johnson’s hopes of securing a deal by the time of a crunch summit appeared to unravel:
The European parliament’s Brexit steering group insisted the UK proposals did not “even remotely” amount to an acceptable deal for the EU.
Donald Tusk, the European council president, said Brussels was “unconvinced” by Johnson’s plans, and offered the EU’s full solidarity with Ireland amid claims that Dublin was under pressure to compromise.
The EU agreed to set David Frost, the prime minister’s chief negotiator, a deadline of one week to offer fresh solutions on the key sticking points.
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist party, which has given its backing to Johnson’s plans, insisted that the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, would “go down in history as the man that instituted a hard border on the island of Ireland” if he failed to swallow the UK’s proposals.
Johnson’s plans for a whistle-stop tour of EU capitals was put in peril after failing to fix meetings with both the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, due to “scheduling problems”.
Juncker’s call came after the European commission president spoke on the phone to Varadkar. He then issued a statement saying the two men agreed that the UK should open the legal text tabled on Wednesday to public scrutiny.
The UK has so far only made public a seven-page explanatory document on its proposals. The government has insisted that the full 44-page legal text given to the European commission be kept confidential.
“Both the president and the taoiseach agreed that they would be in favour of the UK publishing the legal text of their proposal,” a statement from the commission said.
A senior EU diplomat said: “We want transparency and openness now – let’s stop playing hide and seek.”
A UK source said: “It is perfectly normal for proposed legal texts to remain confidential during detailed negotiations.”