Brexit news: Boris and Macron forced into urgent phone call as EU negotiations on brink | Politics | News


A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron earlier today.

“They discussed the shared challenge of illegal small boat crossings from France to the UK. The Prime Minister set out that the UK’s aim is to stop the smuggling operations and prevent boats arriving on our shores, and they agreed to work together in a spirit of co-operation to address the issue.

“The Prime Minister and President Macron expressed their outrage at the attack on Alexei Navalny and reiterated that Russia must urgently explain how the opposition leader was poisoned with novichock.

“They also discussed UK-French co-operation on tackling coronavirus and on other international issues, including the crises in Libya and Lebanon and the Middle East peace process. The Prime Minister offered his condolences for French casualties in Mali this weekend.

“On the negotiations to reach a trade deal with the European Union, the Prime Minister and President Macron agreed on the importance of making progress this month and reaching a conclusion on talks quickly.”

Mr Johnson’s spokesman earlier insisted the Government was not looking to backtrack on previous commitments made in the Withdrawal Agreement.

He said: “We are fully committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol and we have already taken many practical steps to do.”

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Brexit news: Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron have held urgent talks over the phone (Image: GETTY)

The spokesman said the Prime Minister has made clear the need for significant progress this week when talks on a free trade deal resume in London.

He said: “We can’t be in the same position as we are now by the end of the upcoming negotiating round if we are going to reach an agreement in the time available.

“As the Prime Minister is setting out today, there needs to be an agreement by the time of the European Council on October 15 if it is going to be in force by the end of the year.

“Reaching a deal at the eleventh hour is not an option.”

READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: Get real or we’re off! Boris stuns EU with new deadline

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Brexit news: The two leaders spoke to agree on the ‘importance of making progress this month’ (Image: GETTY)

Mr Johnson had said in an earlier statement he would not compromise on the “fundamentals” of what made Britain an independent nation.

He also insisted a no deal would still be a “good outcome for the UK.

The Prime Minister said: “We will have the freedom to do trade deals with every country in the world. And we will prosper mightily as a result.”

But Mr Johnson continued to insist there is “still an agreement to be had” if Brussels is ready to accept a “standard” free trade deal – similar to the one it had agreed with countries such as Canada.

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Brexit news: Boris Johnson is piling the pressure onto the EU in trade talks (Image: GETTY)

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Brexit news: Ursula von der Leyen warned the UK cannot backtrack on its preevious commitments made in the Withdrawal Agreement (Image: GETTY)

He said: “Even at this late stage, if the EU are ready to rethink their current positions and agree this I will be delighted.

“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it.”

Senior EU figures are already furious at the UK after it was reported the Government is set to table new legislation which could override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Downing Street is insisting new Brexit legislation is needed to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if Britain is unable to secure a deal with the EU.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said the Government is proposing “limited clarifications” to the law to ensure ministers can preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement in the event of no deal outcome between the two sides.

brexit transition period

Brexit news: The transition period ends on December 31, 2020 (Image: EXPRESS)

The Internal Market Bill, which will be tabled on Wednesday, aims to ensure goods from Northern Ireland continue to have unfettered access to the UK market, and also making clear EU state aid rules – which will continue to apply in Northern Ireland – will not apply in the rest of the UK.

An amendment to the Finance Bill will give ministers the power to designate which goods leaving Britain that go to Northern Ireland are considered “at risk” of entering the EU single market, meaning they would be liable to EU tariffs.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted the legislative changes were a necessary “safety net” in the event the UK and EU are unable to come to an agreement.

He said: “As a responsible Government, we cannot allow the peace process or the UK’s internal market to inadvertently be compromised by unintended consequences of the protocol.

“So we are taking limited and reasonable steps to clarify specific elements of the Northern Ireland protocol in domestic law to remove any ambiguity and to ensure the Government is always able to deliver on its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland.”

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Brexit news: Michel Barnier has warned of the prospect of a no deal outcome (Image: GETTY)

But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned the UK cannot backtrack on its preevious commitments if a free trade deal is going to be agreed.

She said: “I trust the British Government to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, an obligation under international law and prerequisite for any future partnership.

“The protocol on Ireland-Northern Ireland is essential to protect peace and stability on the island and integrity of the single market.”

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney warned abandoning the agreement would be “a very unwise way to proceed”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told French radio honouring the Withdrawal Agreement was a “a pre-condition for confidence between us because everything that has been signed in the past must be respected”.





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One thought on “Brexit news: Boris and Macron forced into urgent phone call as EU negotiations on brink | Politics | News

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