New Brexit deal: Johnson positive but challenge to win over EU leaders remains

The newly elected UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has been trying very hard to convince the leaders of the European Union for a negotiated departure of Britain from the Union. In the past few weeks, Johnson has travelled across Europe to convince the EU leaders.

He was filled with optimism after his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who boosted the hope for a new deal as she said that an alternative solution to Irish border could be found if Britain comes up with a practical and workable plan within 30 days. On the contrary, Johnson could not convince French President Emmanuel Macron for the new withdrawal agreement. Macron remained stern in his tone and told Johnson that any divorce agreement had to “protect Europe”. Macron also commented that Johnson “is perhaps playing poker”.

Macron told reporters that his British counterpart has been trying to oversimplify the Irish border issue but EU fears that goods without meeting European regulations could enter in the EU market via Britain, “And that, we cannot accept.”

A tiny clause with regard to Ireland has bottlenecked Johnson’s plans to get a new Brexit deal. British prime minister in his revised Brexit plan has removed a section in that deal that could leave the UK in the grip of the EU customs, to avoid border checks on goods transported between Northern Ireland (which is a British territory) and the Republic of Ireland (which is a part of EU).

In a press briefing, held following the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, when asked about his Brexit negotiations, Johnson told reporters, “everybody is a tough negotiator … but that does not mean we won’t do a deal and we’re working very hard to do that.” He added: “It will be difficult. There is substantial disagreement.”

In the press conference, Jonhson also said that the UK would not be required to pay the £39 billion to the EU, a sum agreed by former British prime minister, Theresa May. He added that the UK would instead use the sum to spend on ‘managing the no-deal scenario’.

On Monday, top executives of the European Parliament criticized Johnson’s announcement asking him to honor the commitments made by his predecessors. Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit coordinator in the European Parliament, went further and said: “If the UK does not pay what is due, the EU will not negotiate a trade deal. After a ‘no deal,’ this will be the first condition of any talks. Britain is better than this.”

With the ongoing to and fro between the EU and UK, without a consensus in sight, no-deal Brexit is likely to become a reality soon.

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