BIARRITZ, France: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that the European Union needed to drop its insistence on the so-called Irish backstop to avoid a “no deal” Brexit.
“I don’t want a ‘no deal’ Brexit. I say to our friends in the EU, if they don’t want a ‘no deal’ Brexit then we have got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty,” Johnson told reporters on the way to the G7 summit in Biarritz, southwest France.
He also responded to EU Council President Donald Tusk, who earlier urged Johnson not to go down in history as “Mr No Deal”.
“If Donald Tusk does not want to go down as Mr ‘No Deal’ Brexit then that point should be borne in mind too,” Johnson said.
During a press conference in Biarritz, Tusk had warned: “One thing I will not cooperate on is a ‘no deal’, and I still hope that Prime Minister Johnson will not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal.”
“We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all member states, including Ireland. If and when the UK government is ready to put them on the table,” he added.
At stake is the “backstop”, a provision guaranteeing that border checks will not return between Ireland, an EU member, and Britain’s Northern Ireland.
Johnson has called it “anti-democratic” because it would require London to keep its regulations aligned with those of the EU during a transitional period when the country is no longer a member of the bloc.
The EU argues the backstop is necessary to avoid the re-emergence of a border which could lead to a return of sectarian fighting on the island.
Johnson has staked his leadership on a “do or die” withdrawal from the EU by the current deadline of October 31.