The Catch-up: EU ‘refusing to engage in Brexit talks’

What happened?

Michael Gove has blamed the EU for the current Brexit stalemate as hostilities between London and Brussels deepen. Mr Gove, who is in charge of no-deal planning, said he was “deeply saddened” by the EU’s refusal to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. It follows reports from Brussels that EU officials had concluded Boris Johnson’s new Government had no intention of negotiating and that its “central scenario” was a no-deal break on October 31.

Is it really all the EU’s fault?

Boris Johnson has said he wants to negotiate a new Brexit deal, but has said he is not prepared to reopen talks unless the EU agrees to drop the controversial Irish backstop from the Brexit deal. This new red line puts the EU in an impossible position - they have insisted throughout the process that the backstop is necessary to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and cannot be removed.

According to the EU it is Mr Johnson who is refusing to budge. The European Commission confirmed president Jean-Claude Juncker told Mr Johnson his team are available for talks for the UK to “clarify” its position over the coming weeks. Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said there was “room for talks and negotiations”, and repeated his invitation for Mr Johnson to visit Ireland, but stopped short of offering to reopen the Brexit deal.

Brussels now appears to be saying it is resigned to a no-deal Brexit, and puts the blame at the feet of Boris Johnson. Following a meeting last week between senior EU figures and Mr Johnson’s top EU adviser, one official reportedly told diplomats in the Belgian capital that Britain has no alternative to no-deal and “no intention to negotiate”.

Read more

The fight over no-deal Brexit: how might the crisis pan out? (The Guardian)

Opinion: ‘Michael Gove almost managed to keep a straight face’ (The Independent)

Government accused of playing ‘blame game’ as Gove says EU refusing to negotiate (The Independent)

Veteran broadcaster Michael Buerk has said obese people should be given the choice to indulge if they wish, and that they are “weak, not ill”. The BBC presenter said those who are obese may be making a “selfless sacrifice” to stop the country being overpopulated if they die a decade earlier than the rest of the population. Buerk said he does not believe obesity should be classed as a disease in a bid to encourage people to seek treatment and to “reduce the stigma (of) fatness”, adding that “you’re fat because you eat too much”. Do you think Michael Buerk has gone too far? Read the full story and have your say below:


Horror injuries of boy ‘thrown’ from Tate Modern

A child who was allegedly thrown from a viewing platform at the Tate Modern sustained a bleed on the brain and fractures to his spine, legs and arms, a court has heard. The six-year-old boy, who is a French national, was airlifted to hospital after he was found on a fifth-floor roof at the gallery on Sunday afternoon. He is in a stable but critical condition after plummeting five storeys after allegedly being thrown from the 10th floor viewing platform. Read the full story here (Sky News)

Man guilty of murdering eight in 2002 fire

A man has been convicted of murdering five children and three adults in a house fire which followed a long-running and bitter dispute. Shahid Mohammed, 37, set fire to the property in Birkby, Huddersfield, in 2002. He had been investigated by police at the time but skipped bail and fled to Pakistan prior to a 2003 trial. Prosecutors said Mohammed reacted angrily when his sister became involved in a relationship with someone he didn’t approve of. Read the full story here (PA Media)


Spectacular ‘upward lightning’ shooting from the top of a mountain has been captured on camera by an amateur photographer. Alyssa Barrundia, a missionary living in Guatemala, filmed the spectacle at Volcan de Agua in the south of the Central American country on Friday. (PA Media)

‘30-50’

The number of “feral hogs” cited by a Twitter user during his defence of assault weapons that has gone viral following the tragic shootings in America over the weekend. William McNabb waded into the gun control debate with a tweet in which he defended keeping assault weapons as a defence against "30-50 feral hogs" running into his back yard where his children play. The response quickly become a meme with many Twitter users delighting in mocking the man’s argument. Deluged by replies, the man shared a video from the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube account which demonstrates that said feral hogs can indeed go at an alarmingly fast speed. Read the full story here (Evening Standard)