The Prime Ministers of both the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland have made it clear that many of the EU27 leaders are now set against further Brexit delays, unless the UK changes course.


As Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt progress through to the final round of the Tory leadership contest where the membership gets to decide on who their new leader and Prime Minister will be, the message coming out of Brussels is that attitudes are hardening against any more Brexit delays.

EU leaders are gathered in Brussels to decide on the future running of the bloc now the EU elections are over, with Brexit definitely taking a back seat with only one five minute slot allocated to it tomorrow.

But EU27 leaders are still applying the pressure.

The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, said not only that Brexit would make the UK a diminished country, but also that there was no point in extending the Article 50 process again unless it was to hold a general election, have a second EU referendum or remove some of its negotiating red lines.

He also said that there was no prospect of renegotiating the deal before the Article 50 extension expires on the 31st October. But he did say that the political declaration could be looked at again.

While the Prime Minster of the Republic of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, said that the EU had run out of patience with the UK, saying:

"There is very much a strong view across the European Union that there shouldn’t be any more extensions.

"While I have endless patience, some of my colleagues have lost patience quite frankly with the UK and there is enormous hostility to any further extension.

"So I think an extension could really only happen to facilitate something like a General Election in the UK or perhaps something like a second referendum if they decided to have one.

"What won’t be entertained is an extension for further negotiations or further indicative votes – the time for that is long since past."

The Irish PM also said that he would not conduct bilateral talks with the UK over the Irish border backstop.

"Negotiations can only happen between the U.K. and EU. We are not going to allow negotiations to move to an intergovernmental level in any way."

I think Leo Varadkar should re-phrase that to say the neither he, nor his government, have the sovereign power to conduct any bilateral talks with anyone, unless the EU gives the go ahead first, of course.

So, what the EU is trying to do is set out the ground rules for the new PM before they've even set foot in Number Ten.

And this is of course what the Remainers in parliament will quickly latch on to and feed with as much fuel as possible, to try and box in the final winner of the keys to Number Ten as much as they can.

But by taking a harder stance and therefore expecting the UK to back down, the EU will only make it more difficult to strike any sort of arrangement with the new prime Minister, whichever of the two it is. Surely that just increases the chances of a WTO Brexit?

And finally just to fill in the gaps on the fifth Tory leadership vote, Boris Johnson got 160 votes, Jeremy Hunt came second with 77 votes and quite a few gasps in the hall as it was announced and Michael Gove came third with 75.

There was one rejected ballot paper.

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