‘Immature’ No 10 briefings trigger another day of Brexit trouble

Blame game row as Downing Street turns fire on Leo Varadkar and Angela Merkel

The first sign of trouble was in the dawn news bulletins. In a long missive the Spectator published overnight, an anonymous No 10 source – widely presumed to be Dominic Cummings – predicted that Brexit talks would “probably end this week”, blaming the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who, it was claimed, had “gone very cold”. The nameless source warned that EU countries supporting an extension of article 50 “will go to the bottom of the queue” on future cooperation with the UK.

While the incendiary briefing was being condemned on the airwaves as “desperate” and something to make the government “ashamed” by the recently departed cabinet minister Amber Rudd, Boris Johnson was on the phone to Angela Merkel. Neither London nor Berlin would offer any detailed official account of their phone call, in line with diplomatic protocol. Yet, by 10am, another explosive anonymous briefing from a No 10 source was lighting up social media with incredible claims about what the German chancellor was meant to have said. And, with that, the Brexit blame game had gone into full swing.

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