Published On: Wed, Aug 21st, 2019

Macron orders Johnson to ‘pay up’ £39bn – even after no-deal Brexit | UK | News

The French President insists European Union leaders will echo his demands ahead crunch negotiations in an attempt to break the Brexit deadlock. Paris believes no deal is the “most likely” scenario as the Prime Minister continues to demand that the controversial Northern Ireland backstop is stripped from the withdrawal agreement, according to a presidential aide. Mr Macron and Mr Johnson are scheduled to meet ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz this weekend.

Ahead of their meeting, an Elysee Palace official said: “The scenario that is becoming the most likely is one of no deal.

“If the United Kingdom considers that having a backstop is absolutely excluded, that is its right, but in that case it limits the possibility of reaching an agreement.”

Paris will now set out a hardline approach to Britain, if the country leaves without a deal, when negotiations resume to arrange a future relationship.

The official added: “The idea of saying ‘there is not a deal, so I won’t pay does not work.”

They insisted that the EU27 is united in ensuring that Britain hands over the £39bn divorce bill before talks can resume after no deal.

“Have no doubt that the French and German positions – and elsewhere – are the same,” the offical said.

“There is not the thickness of a cigarette paper between us.”

Even pressure from US President Donald Trump at the G7 gathering will not tempt Mr Macron or German Chancellor Angela Merkel to shift from their position, the official said.

MUST READ: Customs expert confirms there ARE alternatives to a hard border in N.I

“The UK is deeply invested in the peace, prosperity and security of Northern Ireland and always will be and we have been clear that we will never place infrastructure, checks, or controls at the border.

 “But it is clear that unless the Withdrawal Agreement is reopened and the backstop abolished there is no prospect of a deal. It has already been rejected three times by MPs and is simply unviable as a solution.

 “We are ready to negotiate, in good faith, an alternative to the backstop, with provisions to ensure that the Irish border issues are dealt with where they should always have been: in the negotiations on the future agreement between the UK and the EU.

“France and Germany are two of our closest neighbours, and we cooperate on a range of issues. It is likely the leaders will discuss the upcoming G7 agenda, foreign policy and security issues, the global economy and trade, and the environment and biodiversity.”

But Ms Merkel is expected to put up a fight against the Prime Minister, according to a number of close confidants of the German Chancellor.

Thomas Matussek, a former German ambassador to the UK, said Ms Merkel “absolutely won’t give way” to Mr Johnson’s backstop demands.

She “absolutely won’t give way on the backstop because she can’t,” Mr Matussek, who was Berlin’s representative in the UK between 2002 and 2006, said.

He added: “There is a hardcore that makes the EU and these are the four freedoms.

“As far as the backstop is concerned, we can’t throw Ireland under the bus.

“What message would that send to other members of the EU family if we gave up that sort of loyalty and solidarity?”

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