What Happened: European Council President Donald Tusk has rejected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to eliminate the Irish backstop from the United Kingdom's withdrawal agreement with the European Union, The Guardian reported Aug. 20. Johnson sent a letter to Tusk on Aug. 19, saying the backstop would prevent the United Kingdom from reaching a sustainable relationship with the bloc.
Why It Matters: Johnson is attempting to convince the European Union to exclude the Irish backstop as a precondition to reach a Brexit agreement. However, it remains unclear whether the British prime minister is interested in reaching a deal or whether Johnson merely used the request to make himself appear willing to strike a deal with the European Union.
Background: Johnson has repeatedly emphasized his willingness to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, the United Kingdom's scheduled withdrawal date, either with or without a Brexit deal.