Paris: French leader Emmanuel Macron backed the idea of a month of further talks to find a solution to Brexit while ruling out major compromises as he met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for talks yesterday.
Like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met with Johnson in Berlin on Wednesday, Macron supported allowing another 30 days to find a solution to the vexed issue of the Irish border which has bedevilled negotiations since 2017.
“We need to try to have a useful month,” Macron said alongside Johnson who insisted that solutions were “readily available” to prevent checkpoints returning in divided Ireland.
We want a deal. And I believe that we can get one. You will simply have to wait a little bit longer whether we will come up with a solution.
Macron, who admitted he had a reputation as the “hardest in the gang” on Brexit, also said, “Let me be very clear, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement within 30 days that will be very different from the existing one. We have to respect what was negotiated.”
THE TONE IN BERLIN WAS SOFTER
Though the interplay between Berlin and Paris on Brexit, according to a senior aide, is “not [even] the width of cigarette paper”, the talks in Berlin were on a softer note.
On Wednesday, Merkel hinted at a possible path out of the Brexit impasse by telling Johnson to come up with some alternatives within 30 days.
She expected the UK to present its ideas for a new Brexit deal.
“Britain should tell us what sort of ideas it has, because it is not the core task of a German chancellor to understand the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland so well.” (See story on right)
Let me be very clear, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement within 30 days that will be very different from the existing one.
Ahead of the meeting with Johnson, Macron said Johnson’s demand to renegotiate the divorce deal agreed by then-Prime Minister Theresa May was not workable.
“The British are attached to being a great power,” Macron said on Wednesday.
“Can the cost for Britain of a hard Brexit - because Britain will be the main victim - be offset by the United States of America? No. And even if it were a strategic choice it would be at the cost of a historic vassalisation of Britain,” he said.
THREE YEARS ON, CAN A SOLUTION BE SIGHTED?
More than three years since the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union, it is still unclear on what terms - or indeed whether - the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973.
The Brexit deal, which took 19 months for Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and the 27 other EU governments to agree, was rejected three times by the British Parliament.
Johnson is demanding the EU scrap the so-called backstop, the mechanism designed to keep the Irish border free of checks that’s a key part of the agreement.
“I want a deal and I think we can get a deal and a good deal,” Johnson said.
“The onus is on us to produce those solutions, those ideas to show how we can address the issue of the Northern Irish border - and that is what we want to do.”
The prospect of reaching a deal could also help Johnson to fend off Tory rebels who are against no deal should Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition call a no confidence vote in early September.
WHAT WILL A NO DEAL CRISIS LOOK LIKE?
Pulling Britain out of the world’s biggest trading bloc without a transition or trading deal could smash the intricate supply chains that deliver food, capital and car parts between Britain and Europe.
Many investors say a no-deal Brexit would send shock waves through the world economy, hurt the economies of Britain and the EU, roil financial markets and weaken London’s position as the pre-eminent international financial centre.
The political crisis in London over Brexit has left allies and investors puzzled by a country that for decades seemed a confident pillar of Western economic and political stability.
The rise of Johnson, an avowed Brexiteer and leader of the 2016 “Vote Leave” referendum campaign, has electrified the Brexit crisis.
Brexit supporters say there may be short-term disruption from a no-deal exit but that the UK will thrive if cut free from what they cast as a doomed experiment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States.
‘We want detail,’ senior EU official tells Brexit Britain
The European Union is awaiting detailed proposals from London on Brexit, a senior official in Brussels said, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pursued efforts to persuade the bloc’s leaders to change the terms of the divorce.
Johnson met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, is lunching with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday and will meet European Council President Donald Tusk face on Sunday on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France.
“We want detail,” said the senior EU official speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the G7 summit. He added Tusk would be “in listening mode” when he meets Johnson.