Published On: Thu, Aug 22nd, 2019

Macron and Merkel play ‘good cop, bad cop’ to bully Boris into Brexit customs union | UK | News

The German Chancellor’s friendly approach was part of a “good cop, bad cop” routine with Emmanuel Macron, who will meet Boris Johnson today. When meeting Boris Johnson, Ms Merkel outlined a genuine willingness to help the Prime Minister with the backstop “conundrum” that has deadlocked Brexit talks. But Brussels insiders believe the German Chancellor’s offer changes very little in the negotiations, despite her signalling a willingness to work on alternative solutions to the measure designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

She told reporters: “The backstop has always been a fall back position. 

“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 may be find it in the next 30 days to come. Why not?

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

She added: “From a German point of view, a negotiated Brexit is something that we would very much welcome.

“But we have also said time and again that we are also prepared for a no deal. Should this happen, we have prepared for it.”

EU sources, however, insist the offer she made behind closed doors to the Prime Minister would leave him far from satisfied.

They signalled Ms Merkel sees the alternative solution as Britain remaining in close orbit of the customs union and single market to prevent customs checks from emerging on the border.

An EU source said: “So basically nothing is new. Merkel is the good cop and Macron will be bad cop.

MUST READ: Johnson tells Merkel Irish backstop must be scrapped for a Brexit deal

“You’ve set a blistering timetable of 30 days, I’m more than happy with that.”

He was steadfast in his demand to scrap the backstop in order for there to be a Brexit deal, but that reality was far from Ms Merkel’s mind.

Meanwhile in Paris, Mr Macron spent hours briefing reporters on his Brexit thoughts.

The French President was adamant that the backstop must stay if there is to be a Brexit deal, but signalled he was ready to help Britain out of its “democratic crisis”.

He said: “The British were asked to choose, in a simplistic way, without the government saying how it would be done.

“We have to help the British deal with this internal democratic crisis but we must not be hostage to it nor export it.”

Mr Macron scrapping the backstop would be impossible and leave Brussels with an unacceptable choice between protecting the bloc’s single market or preserving peace in Ireland.

“There was a war in this part of Europe until recently and those who play with that forget history too fast,” he said.

“Irish peace is European peace and we shouldn’t weaken just because of a British crisis.”

And not allowing the EU to be blamed for a no-deal Brexit, he said: “It will be the responsibility of the British government, always, because firstly it was the British people that decided Brexit, and the British government has the possibility up to the last second to revoke Article 50.”

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