EU open to Brexit talks but refuses to modify divorce deal

International

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, north east England, Monday Aug. 5, 2019. Boris Johnson says he will pump an additional 1.8 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) into the National Health Service, feeding speculation he wants an early election to bolster his one-seat majority in Parliament and support for his Brexit plans. (Darren Staples/Pool via AP)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union says its door remains open should British Prime Minister Boris Johnson want to discuss his country’s departure from the bloc but it insists that the Brexit divorce agreement cannot be renegotiated.

EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said Tuesday that the Brexit agreement “is the best possible deal” that Britain is going to get.

Johnson says he will take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, raising fears of a damaging no-deal exit.

He says the backstop arrangement to keep goods flowing smoothly between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland in the U.K. would bind his country to European trade rules and must be dropped from the Brexit agreement.

Breidthardt says Brussels is available should Britain “wish to hold talks and clarify its position in more detail.”

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