EU Chief Negotiator states that the Irish backstop won't be changed
He also stated that he is "not optimistic" that a no-deal outcome can be avoided.
The EU's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has stated that the current set-up of the Irish backstop will not be changed should a no-deal Brexit arrive, saying "The backstop is the maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer to a non-member state."
Writing in today's Sunday Telegraph, Barnier also stated that he does not hold much hope that a no-deal can be avoided: "I am not optimistic about avoiding a no-deal scenario, but we should all continue to work with determination."
This appears to be in direct response to UK PM Boris Johnson's call for the Irish backstop provision to be removed so as to reach a new deal between the UK and the EU ahead of the Brexit deadline of Thursday 31 October.
Barnier also stated that negotiations about the alternatives to the backstop could not begin until Britain approved of the divorce deal struck by former PM Theresa May, but this deal has been struck down three times by British PMs, which is why the Brexit date had been pushed back to Halloween in the first place.
Barnier added that should the UK decide to leave the EU, that decision would ultimately be made in London, with none of the potential fallout of a no-deal Brexit to fall at the feet of the rest of Europe:
"Many people in the UK understand that and I would be surprised if they succumb to the idea that the EU is to blame for a difficult political situation in the UK."