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British PM Johnson seeks Renewed Brexit Talks

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 6:54 am

[Headline from DRJ]

UK’s Johnson presses for fresh Brexit talks in Paris:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exuded confidence Thursday as he pressed French President Emmanuel Macron to accept his request to reopen Brexit negotiations, meeting in Paris on the second stop of his first European tour as U.K. leader.

After ticking off examples of close ties between the two countries, Johnson turned on a charm offensive, stressing that the U.K. wants a Brexit deal with EU. But even as he chummily called the French leader by his first name, Johnson added it was his duty to carry out the wishes of the British people, who by a narrow margin voted to leave the EU.

“As you yourself have just pointed out, Emmanuel, it is vital for trust in politics, that if you have a referendum, then you should act on the instructions of the voters. And that is why we must come out of the EU October 31, deal or no-deal,” Johnson said. “Then of course we can take our relationship forward. I agree with you wholeheartedly Emmanuel that it is a quite extraordinary relationship.”

But even as he smiled for the cameras, Macron dampened expectations, stressing “we have to respect what was negotiated.” He also reiterated what the EU has been saying for months — that it won’t re-open the Brexit withdrawal deal negotiated with Britain’s previous prime minister, Theresa May.

There may have been some movement, although not in France:

That Brexit deal includes an insurance policy known as the Irish backstop, which would keep the U.K. closely aligned in trade with the EU if the two sides can’t find another way to prevent the return of checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Macron said that the backstop is indispensable. Johnson repeatedly countered that Britain would not place checks at the border, raising the possibility that the EU would be forced to decide how to deal with that land border between the U.K. and the EU.

Johnson was buoyed Wednesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who raised the possibility in talks Wednesday that a negotiated departure from the EU may still be possible if Britain comes up with alternative plans for the Irish border within 30 days.

But The Guardian does not see much daylight between Merkel and Macron:

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, Merkel has often sought a politer, more positive tone towards Britain than those carried by the soundbites coming out of Paris. Once stripped of their rhetoric, however, the two countries’ positions have so far been closely aligned.

And behind her optimistic phrasing on Wednesday lay the same cold reality that Germany and the rest of the EU are unwilling to countenance Britain’s desire to reopen the withdrawal agreement.

Merkel’s intervention appeared intended to nudge Johnson towards exploring potential for compromise in the political declaration, the second component of the Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May. Currently only in draft form, it outlines the future trade and security relationship between the UK and the EU.

While the political declaration is not legally binding, Merkel seemed to suggest that a reformulation of the text could render the controversial backstop unnecessary, possibly by positing a closer relationship.

Sounds like a carrot and stick negotiation with Merkel as the carrot and Macron as the stick. That makes Johnson the horse.


2 Responses to “British PM Johnson seeks Renewed Brexit Talks”

  1. That makes Johnson the horse.

    Part of it, anyway.

    I’m pretty sure that the reason the EU is breaking the UK’s back on this is to discourage nations it really wants to keep from leaving. The UK was was only reluctantly admitted into the Common Market to begin with, one of the last in 1969, the reluctance being on Europe’s part, the UK had been begging to get in for two decades, and probably to induce Denmark (for sure) and Ireland (likely) to join, those two nations having their own relationships with the UK.

    I know that if I were the EU I’d be saying “good riddance” to that vitamin-deficient, cold little island. What’s it good for?

    nk (dbc370)

  2. Maybe so. I think Europeans like the ability to travel easily around the Continent and politicians are acutely aware that public sentiment can shift suddenly. They all need to tread carefully.

    DRJ (15874d)

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