There is growing feeling among European leaders that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, despite his numerous protestations to the contrary, doesn’t actually want to strike a Brexit deal with Europe, or is at least incapable of doing so, according to Bloomberg. The report is based on comments by EU deputy chief negotiator Stephanie Riso, who said she has seen no evidence that the UK government is actually preparing to bring forward new proposals to address the thorniest issue — that of the “backstop,” a customs union between the UK and EU demanded by the latter to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
- In recent days Johnson has revisited previously mooted ideas, such as a system of “trusted traders,” using technology to enable cross-border trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland without infrastructure at the border — but these ideas were also previously dismissed by the EU as unworkable in the short term, although potentially plausible in the longer term.
- According to multiple officials who spoke to Bloomberg, there is also a growing sense that Johnson is simply maneuvering to place blame for the eventual failure of negotiations on the EU as a political ploy to win looming Parliamentary elections.
- The impression is reinforced by reports that Johnson’s chief advisor and political strategist, Dominic Cummings, views the Brexit negotiations with the EU as a “sham,” based on leaks of a July 29 meeting.