EU’s Tusk “unconvinced” about UK Brexit proposal

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit and British politics (all times local):


3:30 p.m.

European Union Council President Donald Tusk says he is “still unconvinced” about the new British proposals to unblock the stalled Brexit negotiations even after having a phone call to discuss them.

Tusk also had telephone talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and joined him in his skepticism about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposals, which are supposed to be the basis for an EU-U.K. divorce deal by the end of the month.

Tusk said his message to Varadkar was that the EU stands “fully behind Ireland.” In sharp contrast, he coined his message to Johnson as “we remain open, but still unconvinced.”

Britain is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31 unless it seeks an extension and one is granted


3:25 p.m.

Czech President Milos Zeman says both the European Union and Britain are responsible for the British decision to leave the bloc.

Zeman was talking to reporters at the end of a two-day meeting Thursday with the presidents of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, whose countries form a group known as Visegrad Four. They also invited the presidents of Slovenia and Serbia to join the talks at Lany Castle outside Prague.

Outspoken Zeman says the presidents said the EU is to blame because it issued “nonsensical directives that angered the British citizens.” He did not elaborate.

On the British side, Zeman says, the pro-Brexit campaign “made their citizens believe they will benefit from Brexit, which was a mistake.”

Britain is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31 unless it seeks an extension and one is granted.


2:35 p.m.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says Ireland “may have to live with a no-deal (Brexit) for a period of time” if no solution for a British exit from the European Union is found.

Varadkar says he wouldn’t predict any outcome of the Brexit talks but would prefer to “see a deal where the U.K. leaves in an orderly fashion.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday proposed a compromise Brexit withdrawal agreement that has received mixed reviews from other EU nations.

Johnson on Thursday focused on maintaining an open border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland _ the key sticking point to a Brexit deal. The U.K. proposes to do that by keeping Northern Ireland closely aligned to EU rules for trade in goods, possibly for an extended period.

Varadkar was visiting Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Stockholm on Thursday.


2:05 p.m.

The European Parliament’s supervisory Brexit group has issued a damning verdict on the proposals of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said they “do not match even remotely” what is needed for a compromise.

After being briefed by EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who was given the proposals on Wednesday, the Brexit Steering Group said the proposals were a step back instead of forward toward an overall deal as the Oct. 31 deadline looms ever larger.

The statement from the group said that “the UK’s proposals fall short and represent a significant movement away from joint commitments and objectives.”

The statement carries weight since the steering group unites experts from all major groups in the European Parliament and the legislature has to approve any Brexit deal before it can become official.


12:20 p.m.

Sweden’s European affairs minister says he is cautiously positive about the “concrete proposal” for a Brexit deal British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has submitted.

Johnson’s proposal for a compromise withdrawal agreement has received mixed reviews from the European Union’s other member nations.

But Swedish EU minister Hans Dahlgren told news agency TT on Thursday he thinks it’s “good that one is prepared to discuss this so we can ensure the U.K. leaves the EU in an orderly manner.”

Dahlgren added: “We all benefit from this.”

Johnson’s proposal focused largely on a way to maintain an open border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

l. The U.K. proposes to do that by keeping Northern Ireland closely aligned to EU trade rules, possibly for an extended period.


12 p.m.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says no Labour Party legislator can back the new Brexit proposal submitted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Corbyn said in Parliament that the new plan is just a “rehashed version” of previously rejected ones.

He said the prime minister is not acting in good faith and knows the proposal will be rejected.

Corbyn said the new proposal would gut European Union worker protections and environmental protections and set off a “race to the bottom.”

Johnson would likely need some Labour Party backing to win passage of any new Brexit deal.


9:40 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will present his new Brexit plan to Parliament, a day after he presented it to Europe’s leaders.

Johnson is expected in the House of Commons on Thursday to explain the eleventh-hour plan.

It contains major changes to the proposed arrangements that would regulate trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

The plan has received a mixed response from European leaders and seems to fall far short of meeting their requirements for keeping an open border.

Johnson insists Britain will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, but Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension if no deal is reached.

Johnson’s position is tenuous because he doesn’t have a working majority in Parliament.