UK to hold Brexit talks with Macron after Merkel offers glimmer of hope

By AFP
Published: August 22, 2019
Email
French premier dismisses demands of reopening negotiations on Irish border. PHOTO: REUTERS

French premier dismisses demands of reopening negotiations on Irish border. PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Paris on Thursday, a day after Berlin offered a glimmer of hope that an agreement could be reached to avoid a chaotic “no deal” Brexit.

On the second leg of his first foreign visit since taking office, Johnson will meet his French counterpart at the Elysee palace to press home his message that elements of the UK’s impending divorce from the European Union must be renegotiated. But Johnson is likely to face a tougher audience in Paris than in Berlin.

Macron on Wednesday dismissed Johnson’s demands that the EU reopen negotiations on the Irish border, saying that the bloc had always been clear it would not agree.

“Renegotiation of the terms currently proposed by the British is not an option that exists, and that has always been made clear by (EU) President Tusk,” Macron told reporters in Paris.

At the weekend, all three European leaders will meet US President Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of both Brexit and Johnson, and the leaders of Canada, Italy and Japan at a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz.

The talks come after Merkel on Wednesday told Johnson in Berlin that an agreement could even be possible within “30 days” for Britain to leave the EU, if a solution could be found to the thorny issue of the Irish border.

The British prime minister has been adamant that he will not accept the “backstop” border plan agreed under his predecessor Theresa May and warned that the UK will exit the EU on October 31, even at the cost of economic turmoil.

The backstop is a mechanism to avoid border checks between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, with checkpoints there removed as part of a 1998 peace deal on the divided island.

But critics have derided the plan because it would temporarily keep Britain in the EU customs union.

In Berlin, Johnson again stressed his view that the backstop “has grave, grave defects for a sovereign, democratic country like the UK” and added that the provision “plainly has to go”.

Merkel said that the mechanism was always meant as a “fallback position” to protect the “integrity of the single market” for the period in which the other 27 EU members and London define their future relationship.

Facebook Conversations

Leave Your Reply Below

Your comments may appear in The Express Tribune paper. For this reason we encourage you to provide your city. The Express Tribune does not bear any responsibility for user comments.

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments FAQ.

More in Business