Friday 23 August 2019

Macron tells new PM deal won't be renegotiated

Emmanuel Macron: The new PM spoke with the French president. Photo: Reuters
Emmanuel Macron: The new PM spoke with the French president. Photo: Reuters

David Hughes

European opposition is mounting to Boris Johnson's plan to negotiate a new Brexit deal before the October 31 deadline.

The new British prime minister has insisted the deal thrashed out by Brussels with Theresa May is dead and that he will take the UK out of the EU on Halloween with or without a new agreement.

However, the French have stressed that the existing deal will not be renegotiated.

Mr Johnson spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron to set out his position, insisting that the Northern Ireland backstop would have to go if there was to be a new Brexit deal between Britain and the EU.

Downing Street said the two leaders spoke by telephone yesterday for the first time since Mr Johnson took office as prime minister.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said he had delivered the same message as when he spoke to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday - that Mrs May's Brexit deal would not get through parliament.

"The purpose of the call was to congratulate the prime minister. They did discuss Brexit," the spokesman said.

"When the prime minister has these conversations with fellow leaders and the discussion moves on to Brexit, he will be setting out the same message which he delivered in the House of Commons yesterday.

"He wants to do a deal. He will be energetic in trying to seek that deal, but the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected three times by the House of Commons. It is not going to pass.

"That means reopening the Withdrawal Agreement and securing the abolition of the backstop."

Mr Johnson also spoke to Angela Merkel about Brexit and the UK's relationship with Germany, with the chancellor inviting him to Berlin.

French Europe Minister Amélie de Montchalin stressed Paris's opposition to renegotiating the deal. She said the "divorce agreement" had not been "imposed on the British" but was the result of painstaking negotiation.

Irish Independent

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