Michel Barnier to address European Parliament on Brexit process

The EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will address the European Parliament today as it votes on keeping the Irish

michel barnier european parliament

Photo: European Parliament

The EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will address the European Parliament today as it votes on keeping the Irish backstop as part of the withdrawal agreement.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, as the latter stated his willingness to consider credible alternatives to the Irish backstop clause.

Pressure has grown on Johnson to find a new deal with the EU since British lawmakers passed legislation on September 9 to prevent a no-deal Brexit. As such, Johnson has until October 19 to either pass a deal through the parliament or get legislators to reverse course and approve a no-deal Brexit. If neither outcome is possible, the PM is legally obliged to ask Brussels for a further Brexit extension to January 31, 2020.

However, London need not implement a Brexit deal on October 19—indeed, it will take time for parliament to ratify and implement any deal. Johnson will thus try to get a deal passed, even if it is incomplete, to avoid an extension.

Johnson will have to address the contentious trade-off between Northern Ireland’s position in the UK and its land border with the EU (via the Republic of Ireland), which was a sticking point for deals proposed by former PM Theresa May. Given the extensive opposition Johnson faces from MPs at home, as well as the lack of progress in renegotiating Brexit abroad, an extension beyond the October 31 deadline appears likely.

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