Brexit: David Sassoli with Boris Johnson - No progress, anywhere 2

Brexit: David Sassoli with Boris Johnson – No progress, anywhere



After all, they still talk. Shortly before 18:30 British time, David Sassoli arrives from 10 Downing Street and approaches waiting journalists. In reality, the President of the European Parliament should have said a few words along with Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, but Sassoli is coming alone. The British would not be interested in making a statement right now, they told the people of Sassolis.

Certainly on a day when Johnson will open the battle on the question of who is to blame when it comes to a Brexit that lasts at the end, a departure of the English from the EU without an agreement.

"I came here looking forward to hearing suggestions that could bring the negotiations forward," says Sassoli Tuesday night in Italian. "However, I had to note that there was no such progress." Conveniently, the people of Sassoli had already distributed the statement prepared in English among journalists before the end of the meeting. Apparently the expectations – low – of the visit were met.

Brexit deal "apparently impossible"

Sassoli came directly from a meeting with Angela Merkel in Berlin. The Chancellor, in turn, had spoken with Boris Johnson at 8 am – the call marked the beginning of a day full of hectic Brexit diplomacy. Apparently Merkel had made no progress on the British position. In any case, the British media, referring to sources not specified in 10, Downing Street immediately sprayed, due to Merkel's attitude that it was an "apparently impossible" Brexit agreement.

On Wednesday afternoon, the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker wants to comment on the situation of the Brexit talks in the European Parliament.

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Not good, it is clear after Sassoli's visit. On Tuesday evening, when he meets journalists in the London office of the EU, he is not disappointed. "We had a very honest conversation," he says. "I felt more like a TV talk show." Sassoli states that positively, it was a hard exchange with Johnson, without courtesy, without bureaucratic nonsense.

Initially, Johnson had initially thought of being able to use pebbles with a few cups of tea and kind words. Even a few Italian words tested the British Prime Minister at the beginning of the conversation with the President of Parliament, according to the participants afterwards. But apparently Sassoli, an experienced journalist, has not been rocked.

"Johnson will not ask for the extension"

An extension, a postponement of Brexit beyond October 31, should come from the British, says Sassoli, for example. Johnson, however, clarified that he would not ask for an extension to the EU. "The British told us tonight that they would never ask for an extension," Sassoli says after the meeting. "I want to be crystal clear: Prime Minister Johnson said several times tonight, he won't ask for an extension."

While the blame and the admonition flying back and forth between London, Brussels and Berlin, hold at least one of the EU summits with the President of the European Parliament, the direct line with Johnson. Finally, the European Parliament must agree on a possible agreement. If something moves, it should, at least in principle, reach an agreement before the next EU summit on 17 and 18 October, ideally by the end of the week.


On the arm they went Boris Johnson (l.) And David Sassoli on 10, Downing Street


Frank Augstein / DPA

On the arm they went Boris Johnson (l.) And David Sassoli on 10, Downing Street

But it doesn't look like that now. When he talks about the latest ideas of the British, Sassoli, actually a reticent Italian social democrat, is almost angry – and unusually reports openly from the meeting on 10 at Downing Street.

The British have recently put forward proposals for which Northern Ireland could remain in the single market with the EU for a while, but not in a customs union. Since the British want to check if the duties have been paid without it at a rigid border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, their secret remains. The EU insists on the backstop, the emergency solution designed to prevent a hard line with the controls.

Sassoli warned Johnson several times

"These are not proposals that bring us closer to an agreement," Sassoli says about the ideas of the British. "If someone says he wants to go out on October 31, then you'd expect him to get ready for November 1." Try a comparison. "Who would ever spend money on a house if he didn't have a house in return?" He asks, almost incredulous.

He repeatedly warned Johnson that he had to put something on the table that could be used to start something. Johnson replied that they could manage the rates.

He also stressed to Johnson that he had a great responsibility when it came to Brexit without an agreement. "Oh, you shouldn't be sad," Johnson replied, nothing to worry about. "But I'm seriously worried," Sassoli says later, among journalists.


After the meeting only David Sassoli declared himself, Boris Johnson remained silent


Henry Nicholls / REUTERS

After the meeting only David Sassoli declared himself, Boris Johnson remained silent

Certainly, today, it is difficult to see if it is a question of blaming the other party for failure, or if it is still the subject of serious negotiation. From the Brexit team in Brussels we can feel that nothing is moving. "If it's a will, then it's a possibility for an agreement," says Sassoli. The EU was ready to negotiate until the last second.

It is currently completely open, as it goes. Johnson should have, according to the participants, definitely indicated that he wants to continue talking. And indeed, it is not that the British would not have been able to welcome the European Union with their latest documents. But if it is enough time to get a binding agreement? And although, it is not entirely clear whether Johnson would have a majority in Parliament for a modified withdrawal contract.

A Sassoli will be asked what impression he had in his talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, who had already visited Monday, and Merkel.

The parliamentary leader makes him poor: "At Brexit everyone is worried".