Boris Johnson says voters ‘should not hold their breath’ for Brexit deal breakthrough
Boris Johnson has warned voters “not to hold their breath” on a Brexit breakthrough as he said reaching an agreement with the EU would “not be easy”.
The Prime Minister said that while the “mood music” was “very good” on his visits this week to Berlin and Paris, people “shouldn’t necessarily get their hopes up too soon”.
It comes a day after Mr Johnson returned to London fresh from talks aimed at convincing EU leaders to remove the Irish backstop from the existing agreement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the PM a 30-day countdown to come up with a replacement for the mechanism – which ensures an open border in Ireland after Britain quits the EU – or face a no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron said the backstop was "indispensable", although the two sides may be able to "find something smart within 30 days if there is goodwill on both sides".
Speaking in Devon, Mr Johnson added that both leaders “could see that we want a deal, they can see the problems with the backstop”.
“Clearly Angela Merkel thinks that the solutions can be found within 30 days - actually what she meant was if you can do it in two years you can certainly do it in 30 days,” he said.
“But I want to caution everybody, OK? Because this is not going to be a cinch, this is not going to be easy. We will have to work very hard to get this thing done…
“We have to have an arrangement that allows the whole UK to come out of the EU and have frictionless trade at the border in Northern Ireland. There are lots of ways that we can make sure that happens.
“But to persuade our EU friends and partners, who are very, very, very hard over against it, will take some time…
"We are making progress but I am just telling people not to hold their breath, because I have seen the way these Brussels negotiations work."
Mr Johnson, who has vowed to quit the bloc “do or die” by 31 October, also said he was “very confident” Britain would be prepared to leave without an agreement.
In what was his first trip abroad as Prime Minister, he also claimed there were "abundant solutions” that could replace the backstop, although accepted that “the onus” was on the UK to solve it.