Brexit: Macron calls for ‘useful month’ of talks to find solution
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for a “useful” month of talks with Britain to find a solution to its EU exit, adding that any plan should be within the framework of the existing withdrawal agreement. We need to try to have a useful month,” Macron said alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, adding it was possible to “find something intelligent” in the next 30 days. But he added that such a solution should not be “far from the fundamentals” that have already been negotiated. Johnson told Macron that he wanted a deal on Brexit, saying he had been “powerfully encouraged” by talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I want to make it absolutely clear… I want a deal,” Johnson said. “I think we can get a deal and a good deal.”
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. In the search for a solution, she said, “we have said we would probably find it in the next two years, but maybe we can do it in the next 30 days, why not? Then we are one step further in the right direction”.
Johnson told Merkel that he welcomed the “very blistering timetable of 30 days,” adding that “I’m more than happy with that”. He added: “I just want to be absolutely clear with all our German friends and the German government that we in the UK want a deal, we seek a deal, and I believe we can do that. Wir schaffen das,” he quipped, borrowing Merkel’s signature German phrase on managing the 2015 refugee influx that translates to “we can do it”.