Emmanuel Macron rejects idea backstop replacement can be found in 30 days calling it 'indispensable'

Posted On: 
22nd August 2019

Emmanuel Macron has rejected the idea a replacement for the backstop can be found in the next 30 days calling the controversial policy “indispensable” to a Brexit deal.

Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron in Paris for Brexit talks
PA Images

The French President took a much harder stance with Boris Johnson than Angela Merkel when they appeared together at the start of talks in Paris on Thursday lunchtime.

On Wednesday night the German Chancellor had said if the Prime Minister wants to ditch the backstop he must find an alternative in the next month.

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Downing Street had suggested this was the first major concession in their aim to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement ahead of the October 31 deadline.

But Mr Macron attempted to quickly quash that idea, saying the document, including the Irish backstop, are "not just technical constraints or legal quibbling".

He said they were "genuine, indispensable guarantees" to preserve peace in Northern Ireland and the integrity of the single market, so would not be watered down.

The French leader explained his position, saying: "I've always been presented as the hard boy in the group but it's just that I have always been clear: a choice was made and we cannot just ignore it.

"We have to implement a decision taken by the British people."

Adding: "We will not find a new Withdrawal Agreement within 30 days that will be very different from the existing one."

It came after Mr Johnson had brought up Ms Merkel’s words that “if one is able to solve this conundrum…we can also maybe find it in the next 30 days”, saying he admired the "can-do spirit”.

Again referencing the work of former trade minister Greg Hands and other MPs he said there were multiple possible alternatives to the backstop, adding: “Where there is a will there is a way.”

But Mr Macron played down the comments, saying: "What Angela Merkel said yesterday and which is very much in line with the discussions we have had since the very beginning is that we need visibility in 30 days.

"I believe that this also matches the goal of Prime Minister Johnson. No one will wait until October 31 to find the right solution."

And on the backstop he added: "The Irish backstop, as we call it, is a point that has been negotiated in the context of the geography of Ireland and the past political situation.

"So it is an important element that allows us first of all to guarantee the stability in Ireland and also the integrity of the single market. These are our two goals.”