BloombergLONDON (Bloomberg) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated that the so-called Irish backstop will need to be dropped from Britain’s divorce plan from the European Union before a broader Brexit deal can be reached, an approach rejected by EU leaders last week.
“We can’t do it as long as that anti-democratic backstop, that backstop that seeks to divide our country, divide the U.K., remains in place,” Johnson said Saturday in Manchester a day after talking with leaders from Europe. “We need to get it out and then we can make progress.”
The newly sworn-in leader of the British government is confident a deal can be reached, saying he has good relations with many European leaders and is “mystified” by reports claiming otherwise. The backstop provision is hated by many Brexiteers — Johnson included.
The EU rejected Johnson’s demand to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal deal struck by his predecessor Theresa May, including the Irish border backstop. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Johnson that the Withdrawal Agreement —which Parliament has rejected three times — was the “best and only agreement possible.”
“The approach of the U.K. government is not going to be disengaged or aloof or waiting for them to come to us. We are going to try to solve this problem. We’re going to have to do it in the spirit of friendship and cooperation,” Johnson said.
The comments come a day after Johnson told French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in phone calls that he wants to renegotiate the deal they struck with May. The prime minister said he doubts that May’s deal will be finalized.
Johnson reiterated Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal. If neither side backs down, Britain will be on course to drop out of the EU with no agreement in place to ensure smooth cross-border trade and orderly markets. That could trigger delays at ports, shortages of essential supplies including medicines, difficulties with transactions of all stripes and a recession.Speech