After being given 30 days in Berlin to present an alternative to a viable backstop for both parties, Boris Johnson arrived in Paris and heard President Macron warn that there is no scope for major changes to the exit agreement.
Boris Johnson left Berlin with good news, but on arrival in Paris was not received with good news. At the meeting the British Prime Minister held this morning with the French President, he heard Emmanuel Macron stress that the backstop to the Irish border is “indispensable” and that there is little scope for forging a substantially different exit agreement from the one already in place. was failed three times by the British parliament.
To journalists present at the Elisha, Macron wanted to be “very clear” in what he was going to say by noting that “next month we will not find a new exit agreement that is very different from the one we have.” In other words, the Frenchman points out that to be acceptable to Brussels, a new agreement cannot be much different from the compromise previously agreed.
The French leader thus cooled Boris Johnson’s expectations of the margin for further agreement on the terms of divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Macron thus addressed the 30 days yesterday granted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the new British government to come up with an alternative plan to the rejected safeguard clause that strict controls on the Irish border are not restored.
For the French president, Merkel is right to place the burden on London’s side, especially because the EU needs to glimpse the path intended by the executive now headed by Boris Johnson.
This is because despite rejecting the so-called backstop and promising to divorce Oct. 31, “no ifs, but no”, Johnson has not yet presented any solution to the one who persists as the biggest obstacle to understanding.
Assuring that European leaders will seek “a solution,” Macron said “no one will wait until October 31 to find the ideal solution” and reiterated two key objectives that European chief negotiator Michel Barnier will not abdicate in the negotiations. to follow: safeguarding the “stability” on the Irish island and the integrity of the European single market.
The recovery of prerogatives in the management of the movement of people was one of the demands that the British government, then still led by Theresa May, never waived. However, London has already warned that as of November 1, the free movement of people ends “immediately” in a scenario of disorderly departure from the European bloc. For its part, Brussels considers that the four freedoms of movement (persons, goods, services, and capital) are inseparable.
Boris Johnson took the opportunity to be “highly encouraged” by his conversation with the German Chancellor on Wednesday and to proclaim the commitment that the British government wants to close “a deal” with Brussels. “I think we can reach a deal and a good deal,” said Boris Johnson, who, side by side with Macron, was still motivated by the “interesting” feedback he has received about possible alternatives to the backstop.
Johnson still does not realize what kind of alternatives these are, so for now, the essence of the British position remains in rejecting the mechanism to prevent a rigid border between Ireland (EU) and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom).
Merkel the good cop, Macron the bad cop
The eurosceptic and newly elected Tory leader had refused to sit at the table with Merkel and Macron if European leaders kept their backs to the demand for a backstop and a rejection of the reopening of negotiations on the exit agreement. But it eventually retreated to Berlin and Paris, where it confirmed the different way Germany and France have managed this process.
While Merkel has been more appeasing and keen to promote a solution that appeals to all parties involved, Macron has from the outset adopted a tougher and inflexible negotiating stance on British claims, which has come to be seen in London as a species. of punishment for Brexit’s victory in the 2016 referendum.
The statements of Boris Johnson’s two interlocutors are still a contradiction. Merkel clarified Thursday that the “30 days” referred to yesterday cannot be read as a “literal” deadline to find an alternative backstop solution, leading to the belief that there is room for Berlin to trade already during the month of October.
Already Macron warned that the EU will not wait until October 31 to find a solution, which seems to mean that there is a rush in Paris to resolve the problem as soon as possible. This Wednesday news reports surfaced that the French government is already working on the assumption of a Brexit without agreement.