BORIS Johnson’s Brexit plans have been knocked back by a key group of senior MEPs as not “remotely” acceptable.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG) said it had “grave concerns” about the UK’s proposals, which it said cannot be backed “in their current form”.

Its view is highly significant as the European Parliament has a veto on any withdrawal agreement.

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In its statement the group, led by former Belgium PM Guy Verhofstadt, said: “The BSG does not find these last-minute proposals of the UK Government of October 2, in their current form, represent a basis for an agreement to which the European Parliament could give consent.

“The proposals do not address the real issues that need to be resolved if the backstop were to be removed, namely the all-island economy, the full respect of the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of the single market.

“While we remain open to workable, legally operable and serious solutions, the UK’s proposals fall short and represent a significant movement away from joint commitments and objectives.”

It added: “In summary, the BSG has grave concerns about the UK proposal, as tabled. Safeguarding peace and stability on the island of Ireland, protection of citizens and EU’s legal order has to be the main focus of any deal.

“The UK proposals do not match even remotely what was agreed as a sufficient compromise in the backstop.”

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, was also sceptical of Johnson’s plans.

Following a telephone conversation with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and then with Johnson, Tusk wrote on Twitter that he was “open but still unconvinced”.

“Today I had two phone calls on #Brexit, first with Dublin then with London. My message to Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar: We stand fully behind Ireland. My message to PM @BorisJohnson: We remain open but still unconvinced,” he tweeted.

Earlier Varadkar said Johnson’s proposals fell short in a number of ways and argued he could not understand how customs checks under them.

Speaking in Stockholm after a bilateral meeting with the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven, Varadkar said the Irish Government could not agree to any deal which resulted in checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Johnson is proposing a new plan that would allow the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on October 31 with a deal.

He wants Northern Ireland to leave the EU customs union – the bloc’s tariff-free trading area – but to remain aligned with the EU’s single market rules. He has also proposed that the Northern Ireland Assembly – which has not sat for two years – must give their consent to the plan before the end of the transition period and every four years after.

Johnson told the Commons yesterday that under his plan there would be no checks on the Irish border but at “other points of the supply chain”.

But Varadkar voice his concerns in Sweden. “I think there are two major obstacles,” he said. “The first is the proposal on customs. I don’t fully understand how we can have Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in a separate customs union and somehow avoid there being tariffs and checks and customs posts between North and South.

“We need to tease that through. Secondly, the issue of consent and democracy is important. I said before any consent mechanism must reflect the views of the majority of people of Ireland and Northern Ireland and no one party, not my party, not Sinn Féin, not the DUP, should be in a position to veto what would be the will of the majority of Northern Ireland or Ireland.

“I think if we end up in a No-Deal scenario, it may be the case that we have to live with No Deal for a period of time. Ireland will do what is necessary to protect the single market and ensure our place in the single market is protected, protecting our jobs and economy and prosperity.

“Having to do that for a period of time while we negotiate a deal or while we pursue other solutions is very different to an Irish Government actually signing up in an international treaty putting in place checks between North and South and that is something that we can not contemplate.”

Löfven said he did believe it was possible to get a deal over the line and said the text was a start point.