Is the UK government actually willing to do a Brexit deal?
By Joe Harker
EU diplomats have been briefed that the British government hasn't got an alternative Brexit plan and is intent on leaving without a deal, reports the Daily Mirror.
The EU has been told Boris Johnson has "no desire" to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, though Downing Street rejects this idea and insists it is perfectly willing to talk.
With the clock ticking down is it the UK or the EU who is unwilling to talk?
The briefings came after a meeting between David Frost, the UK's chief envoy to the Europe, and senior EU officials.
The officials came away from the meeting believing the British government has no desire to go back into negotiations and no plan to negotiate with even if they did.
They are concerned that there is no longer any good faith from the UK, instead believing that the whole issue is set up to make the EU look at fault when it is the UK that needs to come up with some workable proposals.
More than three years after the result of the referendum the EU still doesn't know how the UK would like to depart. Much of what has been suggested by the UK is utterly unworkable, while so many groups are wedded to their perfect vision of Brexit that once a compromise was hammered out it was torn to shreds in the Commons.
The UK wants to remove the backstop, that can't be done. It is not unreasonable to reject unreasonable demands.
The Counter Claim:
However, Downing Street has rejected this version of events and insisted that the EU is really at fault for no resumption in negotiations.
They have argued that Brussels needs to change its stance on the matter before they can go back to the negotiating table.
The government wants the EU to throw out the backstop, arguing that the withdrawal agreement they negotiated with Theresa May is not a viable option after being defeated three times in the House of Commons.
Michael Gove said the EU was "refusing to negotiate", arguing that the UK was entirely willing to go back into talks while Brussels was being obstinate and increasing the risk of a no deal Brexit.
The government wants the EU to remove the backstop as a measure to entice them back to the negotiating table, arguing that a refusal to do so when the current withdrawal agreement can't get through parliament will guarantee there's no deal that can be reached.
This has become more of a fight to control the narrative as the UK and EU head towards a no deal Brexit.
The UK will claim the EU's refusal to accept their batsh-t insane demands is evidence that it's Brussels that is unreasonable. They will offer less than nothing and pretend it's a good starting point if only those fat cats in the EU would listen.
The EU will claim the UK's inability to come up with anything even remotely workable while drumming up the no deal Brexit rhetoric is evidence that they're not really bothered about agreeing a new deal.
If there were to be more negotiations they cannot begin with the removal of the backstop, a decision that would leave the Republic of Ireland in the lurch and betray one of the EU's member states.
Screwing over one of your members to agree to the unreasonable and unworkable demands of a departing member is a stupid idea.
So, is the UK government actually willing to do a Brexit deal? It doesn't look at all likely. Expect more no deal Brexit rhetoric coupled with accusations of the EU refusing to negotiate.