Backstop ‘indispensable’ Macron tells Johnson at Paris Brexit talks
French President Emmanuel Macron has told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the backstop to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is an ‘indispensable guarantee to preserve stability in Ireland’.
The two met in Paris today for talks on Brexit.
Commenting on the issue of the backstop in their opening statements, Macron said, ‘I would like to say that the key elements of this agreement, including the Irish backstop, are not just technical constraints or legal quibbling, but indeed genuine, indispensable guarantees to preserve stability in Ireland [and] to preserve the integrity of the single market, which is the foundation of the European project.’
Johnson has previously demanded that the backstop be scrapped.
The French President went on to say that the terms of any new withdrawal agreement proposed by the UK would have to closely mirror the Brexit deal negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.
‘We will not find a new Withdrawal Agreement within 30 days that will be very different from the existing one,’ he said.
He also backed comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday on the timescale for the UK to come up with an alternative to the backstop.
Referring to Merkel’s comments on a 30- day timescale he said, ‘What Angela Merkel said yesterday and which is very much in line with the discussions we have had since the very beginning is that we need visibility in 30 days.
I believe that this also matches the goal of Prime Minister Johnson. No one will wait until October 31 to find the right solution.’
It appeared efforts were being made by the French President to ensure no blame would be apportioned to the EU should a no-deal Brexit go ahead on October 31st.
He said if an acceptable deal was not agreed by both parties it would be ‘a political decision to be taken by the Prime Minister, it’s not our decision.’
Prime Minister Johnson meanwhile remained upbeat about the ability to reach an agreement. At one point posing with Macron with his foot resting on the table in front of him.
He said, ‘I want to make it absolutely clear to you Emmanuel – to the French people – that of course I want a deal. I think we can get a deal and a good deal. I was powerfully encouraged by our conversations last night in Berlin with our mutual friends. I know that with energy and creativity and application we can find a way forward for all our businesses and our citizens.’
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