Friday 13 September 2019 11:50 am

Boris Johnson to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for Brexit talks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday to discuss Brexit.

It will be the first time the pair have met for face-to-face talks since Johnson became Prime Minister in July.

Read more: John Bercow vows ‘creativity’ to stop Johnson dodging Brexit delay

Downing Street has confirmed the talks will take place at the beginning of next week, while a spokeswoman for the European Commission said it was due to be a “working lunch”.

“As President Juncker has said from the beginning, he was looking forward to working constructively with Prime Minister Johnson and it’s just that they haven’t managed to meet yet,” she said.

The pair will meet in Juncker’s home country of Luxembourg, where Johnson will also hold talks with the country’s current Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel.

Despite reports Johnson wanted the meeting held away from Brussels so as not to look like he was desperately chasing a deal, the spokeswoman added: “The reason the lunch is taking place in Luxembourg is because the President has to go straight to Strasbourg afterwards as its plenary week and Mr Johnson agreed to come to Luxembourg to facilitate this happen.”

The meeting comes as Johnson looks to broker a deal with the European Union following parliament’s decision to outlaw the possibility of leaving the bloc without a deal.

The Prime Minister also tried to call an early general election, but was left with limited options ahead of the Brexit deadline of 31 October after opposing MPs voted against it.

He has repeatedly vowed not to request an extension, but the legislation that was passed through the House of Commons and House of Lords last week requires Johnson to ask for a three-month delay if a deal is not agreed by 19 October.

On Friday there were reports that the DUP were willing to soften their stance on the Irish backstop, possibly paving the way to a solution on Brexit’s most contentious issue.

However, DUP leader Arlene Foster dismissed those reports as “nonsense”.

“[The] UK must leave as one nation,” DUP leader Arlene Foster wrote in a tweet. “We are keen to see a sensible deal but not one that divides the internal market of the UK. 

Read more: Pound jumps past $1.24 on reports DUP could soften Irish backstop stance

She added: “We will not support any arrangements that create a barrier to east-west trade. Anonymous sources lead to nonsense stories.”

The meeting between Johnson and Juncker is their first as they look for a solution to the Brexit impasse, although No10 insisted there was still “a long way to go” before they arrived at a solution.