Very hard to secure Brexit deal by next week, says Irish PM

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Johnson unveiled a new plan last week aimed at keeping Britain's border with European Union member Ireland free-flowing after Brexit - a crucial issue in the divorce talks between Brussels and London.

Johnson's office then blamed the European Union for a breakdown in negotiations, sparking a warning from a top European Union leader against playing a "stupid blame game".

However, Tusk tweeted that Britain was playing with "the future of Europe and the UK" with no clear plan of what the country wanted. You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?

The latest legal action - led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry, businessman Dale Vince, and Jolyon Maugham QC - seeks an order requiring the Prime Minister to send the request and another which would allow an official to do so if he does not.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith said: "I am clear that any threat on withdrawing security co-operation with Ireland is unacceptable".

According to the BBC, Downing Street believes talks between the two sides are now "close to breaking down".

However, EU leaders have so far refused to enter into detailed discussions on the plan, saying it does not represent the basis for a new Brexit settlement.

"He [the prime minister] reiterated that if we did not reach an agreement then the United Kingdom will leave without a deal on 31 October". The official claimed that as a effect a deal looked "essentially impossible, not just now but ever".

In Berlin Detlef Seif, the point person on Brexit for Merkel's party, the CDU, rejected the account given by Downing Street of the call between the two leaders.

Merkel was said by an unnamed United Kingdom source to have told Johnson that Northern Ireland had to stay in the EU's customs union.

'Supporting the delay will be seen by this government as hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us'.

The source also warned that negotiations with Brussels could collapse this week and blamed Irish premier Leo Varadkar for refusing to engage.

The unnamed Downing Street briefings have been widely attributed to Dominic Cummings, the former Vote Leave supremo who is now the prime minister's chief adviser.

An EU summit, with Brexit on the table, is due next week and Johnson is has vowed to take the country of the EU by October 31 - without delay. More dramatically, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange dropped its bid to take over the LSE, although it is unclear whether this was a matter related to Brexit or just bad timing; the LSE stock value lost 5,8%, in what was the steepest one-day decline since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Tusk, whose council represents the leaders of European Union member states, was reacting after Downing Street said Germany's Angela Merkel had warned Johnson that a deal is now "overwhelmingly unlikely".

"No UK government could ever concede such a surrender".

A European Commission spokeswoman has insisted the EU was protecting the Good Friday Agreement "in all its dimensions".

"That's why I think it is better now to focus on what we can do in terms of concluding that deal, something which is desirable and still, in my view, possible".

Such abrupt remarks indicate the Brexit blame game has begun in earnest, and that now both London and European capitals are preparing for an acrimonious and potentially chaotic Brexit for which neither side wants to be held responsible.