French President Emmanuel Macron told Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday that there was not enough time to wholly rewrite Britain’s Brexit divorce deal before an Oct. 31 deadline.
Johnson met Macron at the Elysee Palace a day after talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who challenged Britain to come up with alternatives to the agreed safety net provision for the UK-Irish land border.
More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union, it is still unclear on what terms – or indeed whether – the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973.
Macron left the door open to Britain seeking a solution to the Irish “backstop”, but said any alternative must respect both the integrity of the EU single market and stability on the divided island of Ireland.
“I want to be very clear: in the month ahead, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement that deviates far from the original,” Macron said after a warm handshake with the British premier.
However, the British pound, sensitive to the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ exit, jumped more than half a cent [GBP/] after Merkel said she had not set Johnson a 30-day deadline to propose a solution to the border issue, and that it could be achieved by Oct. 31.
On his first trip abroad since entering 10 Downing Street a month ago, Johnson has warned Merkel and Macron that they face a potentially disorderly no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 unless the EU does a new deal.