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BREAKING NEWS

EU negotiator Michel Barnier says UK's Brexit stance is 'unacceptable'

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EU negotiator Michel Barnier says UK's Brexit stance is 'unacceptable'
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REUTERS/Yves Herman
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The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday that talks with the United Kingdom were in a "very difficult and sensitive phase" and said it would be "difficult" to find a solution.

In a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Barnier said his task was "safeguarding peace and stability in Ireland and protecting the integrity of the single market."

"Let me, therefore, put it clearly, based on the current UK thinking, it is difficult to see how we can arrive at a legally operative solution which fulfils all of the objectives of the backstop."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he would like to leave the European Union by October 31st but wants any deal with the European Union to drop the Irish backstop, which is an insurance policy that guarantees an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Barnier said the UK government's stance as it stood was "unacceptable".

"The UK government also wants the EU to change the way the internal market and border controls operate after Brexit — as I am sure you will understand this is unacceptable."

Despite that, he said they wanted the withdrawal to take place in an "orderly manner", a sentiment the German foreign minister echoed.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met with Johnson in Luxembourg last week. Juncker said after the meeting that he did not like the idea of no-deal saying it would have "catastrophic consequences".

"It's better, for Britain and for the European Union, to have an organised deal," Juncker told Sky News after the meeting in Luxembourg.

Barnier also met with his UK counterpart, Stephen Barclay, on Friday.

Barnier said on Monday that they would not allow there to be any "holes" in the EU's single market.

When asked about digitisation, Barnier said he was open to alternative arrangements, but that he did not know how to inspect a cow with virtual methods. He said they needed concrete solutions.