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EU's Barnier cast doubt over breakthrough on Irish 'backstop'

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By Reuters
EU's Barnier cast doubt over breakthrough on Irish 'backstop'

BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union’s Brexit negotiator on Monday cast doubt over whether Britain and the bloc could achieve a breakthrough over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s request to remove the Irish “backstop” from a divorce deal.

“We want to put an end to the current uncertainty,” Michel Barnier said during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

He added: “The new UK government wants us to get rid of this solution, the so-called (Irish border) backstop. I am sure you understand this is unacceptable. My mandate is clear: safeguarding peace and stability in Ireland and protecting the integrity of the single market.

“Based on current UK thinking it is difficult to see how we can arrive at a legally operative solution which fulfils all the objectives of the backstop. It is in a very sensitive and difficult phase.”

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Joseph Nasr)