Irish backstop ‘indispensable’ to Brexit deal, Macron tells Johnson | Politics News
Boris Johnson has had his bid to get France’s support for a new Brexit deal in 30 days rebuffed on a trip to Paris.
The prime minister was told by French President Emmanuel Macron that they would “not find a new withdrawal agreement” within a month that is “very different from the existing one”.
Mr Macron said there needed to be “visibility” from the UK over what it wants “in 30 days”, but reiterated the key part of the current deal known as the Irish backstop was “indispensable”.
The two leaders’ meeting was overshadowed by an intervention from Mr Macron’s ahead of Mr Johnson’s visit to the Elysee, as he warned a no-deal Brexit would be Britain’s fault.
He highlighted EU unity by insisting there was not a “cigarette paper” between France, Germany and other EU countries, saying: “The point can’t be to exit Europe and say ‘we’ll be stronger’, before in the end, becoming the junior partner of the US.”
It comes after Mr Johnson travelled to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.
She suggested there would be a 30-day deadline for the UK prime minister to come up with a solution to replacing a controversial part of the Brexit deal agreed by Brussels and Theresa May.
Mr Johnson called it a “blistering timetable” but added: “I am more than happy with that.”
He has been calling for the withdrawal agreement to be re-negotiated, particularly to remove the Irish backstop – an insurance policy to stop a hard border reforming on the island of Ireland if a trade deal cannot be struck in time to avoid such a scenario.
Mr Johnson has faced pushback from senior EU figures, such as European Council President Donald Tusk who earlier this week attacked those against the backstop who were “not proposing realistic alternatives”.
The pair are due to meet later this week on the sidelines of this weekend’s G7 summit in France.
Downing Street and Brussels remain in a stand-off with 70 days to go until Britain is due to leave the EU.