World, Europe

Brexit ‘backstop’ must go, UK premier tells Merkel

Boris Johnson says he wants deal with EU on UK’s withdrawal, but insists first ‘backstop’ arrangement should be removed

Ayhan Şimşek   | 21.08.2019
Brexit ‘backstop’ must go, UK premier tells Merkel German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) hold a joint press conference in Berlin, Germany on August 21, 2019. ( Abdülhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency )

BERLIN

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday urged the European Union to remove a controversial “backstop” arrangement from the U.K.’s EU withdrawal agreement, insisting that it was unacceptable for a democratic and sovereign nation. 

“We in the U.K. want a deal, we seek a deal. And I believe that we can get one,” he said at a joint press meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of their working dinner.

“But clearly we cannot accept the current Withdrawal Agreement, arrangements that either divide the U.K., or lock us into the regulatory and trading arrangements of the EU,” he said, referring to the deal concluded by former British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“So we need that backstop removed. If we can do that, then I am absolutely certain that we can move forward together,” Johnson stressed.

The German chancellor reiterated that the backstop arrangement was designed to ensure open borders between the EU member Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland during the post-Brexit transition period, when the EU and the U.K. will try to set the direction for their future relationship.

“This is an expression of a problem we have not yet solved. Once we will have a solution, this backstop arrangement, as a sort of placeholder, is no longer necessary,“ she said.

“We had said, we would probably find this solution in the next two years to come, but maybe we can also find it in the next 30 days,” she added.

Merkel underlined that Germany would prefer an orderly exit of the UK from the EU, but she also noted that Berlin was also prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson has repeatedly stated that he would take the U.K. out of the EU by Oct. 31 with no exceptions and that although he is confident in negotiating a deal with Brussels, he was also making preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

The British prime minister is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday.

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