As Boris Johnson prepares to meet with German leader Angela Merkel, a leaked briefing document has revealed that Germany is well on the way to readying itself for a no deal Brexit.
The paper leaked to German paper Handelsblatt will make worrying reading for the Prime Minister suggesting that Germany will not be bluffed into abandoning measures guaranteeing a peaceful border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The internal German government document indicates a European preparedness to let Britain leave the EU with an economically disastrous no deal Brexit rather than abandon assurances for EU member state Ireland on the Irish backstop negotiated in Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.
The leaked memo was prepared by the German civil service for German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, ahead of his talks on Friday with Sajid Javid.
The new chancellor of the exchequer is the most senior member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet to meet the German government since Johnson replaced Theresa May as Prime Minister.
“The EU27 stands united and is ready for all scenarios. The best and only way for an orderly withdrawal is the negotiated #Brexitdeal” tweeted the German finance minister after their meeting.
But the leaked German government memo suggests that Boris Johnson’s policy of playing chicken with the EU member states by refusing to negotiate with the EU unless it drops the backstop is set to backfire colossally.
The dossier says Germany considers no deal to be “highly likely” given Johnson’s disregard for reality and refusal to accept the need for a backstop to protect Ireland from border and conflict.
It also reveals an advanced level of preparedness for a no deal eventuality in Germany, with preparations “largely completed.”
Meanwhile Simon Coveney, the deputy Irish prime minister, has written an article in the Irish Sun, explaining the importance of the backstop for Irish peace.
“It fully protects the Good Friday Agreement and Ireland’s place in the EU single market, the cornerstone of our economy,” he wrote.
“The backstop threatens no one,” he added. “A no-deal Brexit will not be a decision brought about by Ireland or the EU.”
Yet Johnson has refused to meet EU counterparts until they agree to remove the Irish backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement that his government negotiated when he was Foreign Minister. – An eventuality the EU has repeatedly ruled out.
Despite Boris Johnson describing the chance of a no-deal Brexit happening as “vanishingly small,” unless the UK government asks for an extension to Article 50, against Johnson’s repeated vows to leave by October 31, the default position is for the UK to leave the EU with no deal.
No deal Brexit odds have been cut again by political bookies who now predict a 50 percent chance of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
As Johnson repeatedly tweeted about the UK leaving the EU on October 31, bookmaker Coral joined others to cut odds of a no deal Brexit from 2/1 to evens.
Betway’s Alan Alger also priced the economically devastating course at 50%, explaining: “though Boris Johnson appears confident of fulfilling his promise of getting the UK out of the EU before October 31, we’ve seen nothing to suggest that he’ll be able to pull that off with an agreement in place.”
Interestingly, bookies have also cut odds on Jeremy Corbyn replacing Boris Johnson as PM.
Ladbrokes’ Jessica O’Reilly said odds on the Labour leader seizing power as MPs seek to prevent the chaos of a no-deal Brexit have been slashed to 5/2 from 3/1.
She said: “Money is coming in for Corbyn to take down Johnson’s government, leaving us with little option but to cut the odds accordingly.”
“I’m the leader of the opposition, I’m the leader of the Labour party and under the normal constitutional processes in Britain when a government collapses, the leader of the main opposition party is called upon to form a government – and we are ready to do that,” the leader of the opposition told BBC News after LibDem leader Jo Swinson suggested Tory Ken Clarke and Labour’s Harriet Harman are willing to lead an emergency government.
The Sun reported Harman confirming that Corbyn should be given a chance to form an emergency government to stop a no-deal Brexit, saying: “the leader of the opposition should be the first to try to take over and form an interim government to extend Article 50.
“If Parliament does not back that, then it’s for whoever can command the confidence of the house.”
“It’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who is the next Prime Minister,” Jeremy Corbyn said earlier, echoing Harman’s comments.