The Prime Minister down played the chances of striking an agreement after a turbulent day of talks in Luxembourg. He urged EU leaders to once again drop their support for the controversial Northern Ireland backstop and work with him to prevent customs checks on the border from emerging after Brexit. Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker agreed with the Prime Minister that both the UK and Brussels should “accelerate” their negotiations in the coming weeks.
Mr Johnson said: “Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of work… papers have been shared but we are now at the stage where we need to start accelerating the work and that was the agreement today with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier.
“We need to manage this carefully. Yes, there is a good chance of a deal. Yes, I can see the shape of it. Everybody can see roughly what could be done.
“But it will require movement and it will require a system, by which the EU can control the UK after we leave, the so-called backstop, to go from that treaty and that needs to happen.
“That’s a big change that we need to get done. But if we can get that done, like I’ve said before, then we’re at the races.”
Mr Johnson, Mr Juncker, who was Luxembourg prime minister for 18 years, and Mr Barnier enjoyed a two-hour working lunch in one of EU leader’s favoured dining spots.
While the Prime Minister was lamented for not bringing a “legally operable” replacement for the backstop to the meeting, Brussels pledged to hold daily negotiations in hope of reaching a deal.
Mr Johnson said: “They know we’re working very hard to get a deal.
“That goes for our friends in Berlin, Paris, Dublin and the Commission as well.”
The Prime Minister insisted Brexit talks are currently at a “difficult moment”, adding: “We are very keen to do it but I don’t want people to think it is necessarily in the bag.”
His meeting with Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel descended into farce after an angry rabble of protesters heckled and jeered for the duration of their meeting.
Mr Bettel ended holding a seperate press conference after refusing Downing Street officials’ request to move the event inside.
He ordered Mr Johnson to “stop speaking and act” in a hostile 15-minute anti-Brexit onslaught.
“I told them I hear a lot but I don’t read a lot if they want that we’re able to discuss about anything we need it on the written side,” Mr Bettel blast.
“Don’t put the blame on us because now they don’t know how to get out of this situation they put themselves in. It’s not my choice.”
He added: “Now people try to blame the others because we cannot find an agreement.
“We did not decide to organise the Brexit. It is a unilateral decision of the UK Government we have to accept the result but it’s not now in a unilateral way that the UK Government will decide what will be the next relations with the EU. Theresa May accepted the Withdrawal Agreement.
“So don’t make it like the EU would be the bad guy by not accepting the decisions that the UK proposes.
“They accepted them and it’s not under my responsibility.
“If they’re not able to find a United Kingdom back in London and in the House of Commons and a majority these are home made problems and we have now all to deal with those home made problems that makes all ourselves in a more general problem so I won’t accept any time to be responsible as European leader neither the Commission nor the other 27 countries for I’m sorry the mess we’re in at the moment.”
Published at Mon, 16 Sep 2019 15:17:00 +0000