Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, east London. Picture: AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, east London. Picture: AP

Boris fights back as Brexit hearing resumes

EUROPE has warned there remains a significant risk of a no-deal Brexit but has opened the door to changes to the Irish backstop, a major hurdle in negotiations.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told European Parliament he had "no emotional attachment" to the Irish backstop after meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week.

French president Emmanuel Macron set Mr Johnson a 12-day deadline to table his Brexit plan as Mr Juncker warned that time is running out to strike a deal.

"We need to know what the UK is proposing. Loose talk about proposals for negotiations is irresponsible," Mr Macron said. "We are both concerned about what is happening in Britain right now and the confusion that is spreading out from there to Europe."

It comes as Mr Johnson continued to fight in the UK Supreme Court over whether he misled the Queen when he asked her to prorogue - or suspend - parliament.

Sir James Eadie, QC, for Mr Johnson, argued that the courts did not have the jurisdiction to intervene in politics.

He said any decisions to suspend parliament "are inherently and fundamentally political in nature" and highlighted the separation of powers between parliament and the courts.

"My submissions are these are political judgments," Sir James said.

The case was an appeal after English and Scottish courts had contradicting rulings on whether the five-week suspension of parliament until October 14 was unlawful.

Lord David Pannick, for businesswoman Gina Miller who brought the appeal, had argued that the "exceptionally long" suspension was designed to stifle debate on Brexit and was an "abuse of power".

The father of a young girl, who is being treated in the Acorn childrens' ward, expresses his anger over hospital waiting times to Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone. Picture: Getty
The father of a young girl, who is being treated in the Acorn childrens' ward, expresses his anger over hospital waiting times to Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone. Picture: Getty

The legal fight has been running alongside Mr Johnson's last minute Brexit negotiations.

Mr Juncker said the European Commission was willing to work "day in, day out" to get a deal done, although the October 31 deadline was fast approaching.

"I said to Prime Minister Johnson that I have no emotional attachment to the safety net, to the backstop, but I stated that I stand by the objectives that it is designed to achieve," he said.

Mr Juncker said he had asked Mr Johnson for proposals in writing.

"Until such time as those proposals have been presented I will not be able to tell you, looking you straight in the eye, that any real progress has been achieved," he said.

Britain has been reluctant to hand over written proposals for fear of leaks.

"We are showing them papers," a UK Government source said. "The difference is we are not leaving them with them."

The rejected Irish backstop was a plan to prevent a hard border in Ireland, which would require the UK to stick with some EU rules.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said any deal would not be good enough and he still wanted a clean break from Europe through a no-deal.

 

"Politically they are very close to a deal being done on the 17th of October," he told Sky News UK from Brussels.

Mr Farage argued that the EU was trying to get a deal that keeps Britain in the single customs union.

He said if that happens "Brexit hasn't been worth it."

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has dithered on Brexit, saying his party would not have a position on the issue if there was a second referendum.

Hearings in the Supreme Court case, in front of 11 judges for only the second time in the court's history, are expected to continue into Thursday when former UK PM John Major will speak.



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