Sunday 22 September 2019

Johnson now 'more optimistic' deal can be completed


Boris Johnson (Andrew Parsons/PA)
Boris Johnson (Andrew Parsons/PA)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he's "marginally more optimistic" about getting a Brexit deal but insisted that there will have to be what he termed a "backstopectomy".

Mr Johnson last week acknowledged that the onus was on Britain to come up with a viable alternative arrangement to the measure to avoid a hard Border in Ireland.

But speaking at the end of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, he sought to shift the focus on to the EU side, saying the chances of a deal "depend exclusively" on its willingness "to compromise on that crucial point, that you get rid of the backstop".

He said: "It's a big job but we think it can be done."

It came after Mr Johnson described the prospect of a deal as "touch and go" on Sunday.

Ireland and the EU have insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be reopened for negotiations ahead of the Brexit deadline of October 31. He refused to be drawn on whether or not he would suspend the House of Commons to prevent MPs stopping a no-deal Brexit.

Talks are expected to be held today between UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other political leaders who are opposed to a no-deal crash-out.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has been warned by senior figures in Brussels that failing to pay the £39bn (€43bn) divorce bill would damage relations between the UK and the European Union and jeopardise future trade talks.

Mr Johnson has said that if there is a no-deal Brexit "the £39bn is no longer legally pledged" to the EU.

But officials in Brussels said the UK must honour commitments made during its EU membership with European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva saying this is "especially true in a no-deal scenario".

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator, said: "If the UK doesn't pay what is due, the EU will not negotiate a trade deal."

Irish Independent

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