Macron, Johnson meet on Brexit in Paris

2019-08-23 02:52:59 GMT2019-08-23 10:52:59(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

PARIS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson started talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, with the thorny issue of Irish border plan of the Brexit deal on the top of agenda.

"We must leave the European Union on October 31, deal or no deal", Johnson told the press before the talks, adding that he wants a deal and he was "powerfully encouraged" by talks on Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Merkel said a negotiated departure of Britain from the EU is still possible "within 30 days". Paris is the second leg of Johnson's first foreign visit since he took office.

"In the month ahead, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement," said the French president, alongside with Johnson. But he called for a "useful" month of talks with Britain.

It is possible to find something intelligent but any solution should not be far from the fundamentals that have already been negotiated, said Macron. "Nobody is going to wait until Oct. 31 without trying to find a good solution."

The two referred to the "backstop" border plan reached under former British Prime Minister Theresa May. This key part of the Brexit deal intends to maintain a seamless border between the British region of Northern Ireland and the EU member-state the Republic of Ireland. Johnson had said the "backstop" is "divisive" and "anti-democratic" and pledged to get rid of it. The EU has so far refused to renegotiate.

"Our position has always been to respect the sovereignty of the British people," said the French president. "We are actively getting prepared to all scenarios."

When asked about what will happen with a no-deal Brexit, Johnson told the press that under no circumstances would Britain set up border checks on the boundary between the British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"Technical solutions are readily available and they have been discussed at great length," he said. "You can have trusted trader schemes, you can have electronic pre-clearing."