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by Alain Tolhurst
22 August 2019
Angela Merkel gives Boris Johnson 30 days to find alternative to Brexit backstop

Angela Merkel gives Boris Johnson 30 days to find alternative to Brexit backstop

Angela Merkel - Image credit: PA

Angela Merkel has given the UK 30 days to come up with an alternative to the backstop or face a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson took up the German chancellor’s challenge as he admitted the “onus is on us” to solve the Irish border issue.

On his first trip abroad as prime minister, Johnson claimed there were "abundant solutions” to the problem, but he repeated his call to ditch the backstop from any deal struck between the UK and the EU.

Responding to those calls, Merkel said: "If one is able to solve this conundrum, if one finds this solution, we said we would probably find it in the next two years to come but we can also maybe find it in the next 30 days to come.

"Then we are one step further in the right direction and we have to obviously put our all into this."

Johnson replied with a direct criticism of his predecessor Theresa May, saying: "There are abundant solutions which are proffered, which have already been discussed.

“I don't think, to be fair, they have so far been very actively proposed over the last three years by the British government.”

The Prime Minister discussed Brexit with Merkel over a dinner of tuna tartare, Brandenburg venison and chocolate tart before he heads off to Paris to meet Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the dinner, he told her: "You rightly say the onus is on us to produce those solutions, those ideas, to show how we can address the issue of the Northern Irish border and that is what we want to do.

"I must say I am very glad listening to you tonight Angela to hear that at least the conversations that matter can now properly begin.

"You have set a very blistering timetable of 30 days, if I understood you correctly. I am more than happy with that."

And Johnson suggested a "winning deal" would appear in the "final furlong" of the negotiations ahead of the 31 October deadline.

But ahead of his trip to Paris it seems unlikely he will get any movement on the EU’s red lines, after French officials said a no-deal Brexit was now the “most likely” outcome.

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