BERLIN (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that unless she agrees to change the Brexit deal, Britain will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 without one.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen at the back of Downing Street in London, Britain, August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, it is still unclear on what terms – or indeed whether – the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973.
Johnson, a Brexiteer who won the premiership a month ago, is betting that the threat of ‘no-deal’ Brexit turmoil will convince Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that the EU should do a last-minute divorce deal to suit his demands.
But with just over 10 weeks left until the United Kingdom is due to leave, the EU has repeatedly said it will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement struck by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and that it will stand behind member state Ireland.
Merkel said in Leipzig that she would discuss with Johnson “how we can get the most friction-free British exit from the European Union possible, as we must fight for our economic growth”.
She has promised to discuss “practical solutions” to the Irish border insurance policy or ‘backstop’ that Johnson says is unacceptable – but said the Withdrawal Agreement will not be reopened.
Ahead of his first foreign trip as prime minister, Johnson said the EU was being “a bit negative”, but that a deal could be done. If not, he said, the United Kingdom would leave without one.
“A TOUGH BARGAIN”