EU chief Donald Tusk accused Boris Johnson of playing a "stupid blame game" over Brexit after a Downing Street source said a deal was essentially impossible because German chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands.
.@BorisJohnson, what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 8, 2019
The president of the European Council sent a public tweet to Johnson, telling him "the future of Europe and the UK" was at stake.
Johnson has just days to agree a Brexit deal with the EU before a summit on October 17. Downing Street officially insists the government is still focused on getting a deal with the EU, with preliminary talks continuing about Johnson's new Brexit proposals.
"Merkel said that if Germany wanted to leave the EU they could do it no problem, but the UK cannot leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a customs union and in full alignment forever," a source said.
"She said Ireland is the government's special problem and Ireland must at least have a veto on NI leaving. Merkel said the PM should tell Northern Ireland it must stay in full alignment forever but that even this would not eliminate customs issues.
"It was a very useful clarifying moment in all sorts of ways. If this represents a new established position then it means a deal is essentially impossible, not just now but ever. It also made clear that they are willing to torpedo the Good Friday agreement."
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said it was hard to disagree with Tusk's comments but "we remain open" to finalising a fair Brexit deal.
He added that the Irish prime minister wants to find a compromise on Brexit that works, but is not willing to be boxed into a corner and accept proposals that are not consistent with the current agreement or the backstop.
As hopes of a deal faded fast, a N. 10 source claimed any Brexit delay will send EU countries to the "bottom of the queue" for trade and throw co-operation in the "toilet".
Following talks in Downing Street, the president of the European Parliament said there had been "no progress" and MEPs would not agree to a compromise deal "at any price".
With just 23 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the bloc, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain and both London and Brussels are positioning themselves to avoid blame for a delay or a disorderly no-deal Brexit.