Bulletin
Investor Alert

Associated Press Archives | Email alerts

Oct. 14, 2019, 11:37 a.m. EDT

Queen says it’s ‘priority’ for U.K. to leave European Union by October 31 deadline

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the country will leave at the end of the month with or without a deal

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Associated Press


Associated PressVictoria Jones
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, delivers the Queen's Speech at the official State Opening of Parliament in London, Monday Oct. 14, 2019. (Victoria Jones/Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain and the European Union said Monday that divorce talks were making slow progress, as the U.K. government tried to look beyond Brexit with a wide-ranging policy platform read by Queen Elizabeth II in a pomp-filled ceremony.

In terms of historical importance, the painstaking paragraph-by-paragraph talks at the EU’s glass-and-steel Berlaymont headquarters outweighed the regal ritual in which an ermine-draped monarch delivered a speech on the priorities of a Conservative government that could be out of office within weeks.

But the spectacle, complete with horse-drawn coaches, lords in scarlet robes and a diamond-studded crown, did provide a diversion from the long Brexit grind.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31, and an EU summit on Thursday or Friday is considered one of the last possible chances to approve a divorce agreement to accommodate that timeframe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the country will leave at the end of the month with or without a deal.

“My government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on the 31st of October,” the queen said in a speech to Parliament, written for her by the government.

It remains to be seen whether Johnson will achieve that goal.

Brexit negotiations have intensified over recent days after the British and Irish leaders said they could see a “pathway” to a deal. Technical teams from Britain and the EU worked through the weekend, but both sides said Monday that significant gaps remained between their positions.

Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said “the talks remain constructive but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Discussions centered on the difficult issue of the future border arrangements between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. Johnson has put forward a complex proposal to eliminate the need for customs checks, but EU officials say more work is needed.

An EU diplomat familiar with the talks said there would likely need to be a three-month extension to Brexit to turn the proposals into a legally binding deal.

“There are big problems remaining to counter smuggling and fraud because the British outlines are still that vague,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing. “There is momentum but there is still little movement.”

Arriving for a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said “a deal is possible, and it is possible this month. May be possible this week. But we are not there yet.”

In London, the queen delivered a speech outlining an ambitious — and critics say undeliverable — legislative program for Johnson’s government.

The 10-minute speech, read by the 93-year-old monarch from a gilded throne in the House of Lords, included more than 20 bills, including a law to implement an EU withdrawal agreement, should one be reached.

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.