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Johnson battles to surmount EU opposition to Brexit plan

Published:Monday | October 7, 2019 | 9:18 AM
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Parliament in London, Thursday, October 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON (AP) — Britain must provide “more realism and clarity” if there is to be a Brexit deal with the European Union in time for the country’s scheduled departure date from the bloc at the end of this month, the Dutch government said Monday.

Last week the British government sent the EU what it considers a “reasonable compromise.”

But Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said after meeting Britain’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay that “important questions still remain.”

The British government insists that the country will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal. Many in the EU — and in Britain — are sceptical of that claim, because the U.K. Parliament has passed a law compelling the government to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit if no deal is agreed by October 19.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will obey the law, but will not ask for a delay.

It’s unclear how the two statements can be reconciled.

Johnson was working the phones on Monday, speaking to a series of EU leaders, as he tried to overcome opposition to his proposal.

The EU has responded coolly to the U.K.‘s plan for maintaining an open Irish border after Britain leaves the bloc.

Both sides have agreed there must be no checks or infrastructure along the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.

Under the U.K. plan there would be customs checks, but Britain says they could be conducted away from the border.

EU officials oppose any customs checks, and are sceptical of U.K. claims they could be achieved through largely untested technology. EU leaders also have been sharply critical of a proposal that would give Northern Ireland’s legislature an effective veto on key elements of the Irish border arrangements in the future.

There is little time to secure a deal, with a key EU summit scheduled for October 17-18.

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