The UK will most likely leave the European Union – but still be on the hook for the £39bn divorce bill, a French presidential aide has told AFP.
A no-deal Brexit is the “most likely scenario”, the wire reported, a day before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to meet his French counterpart Emmanual Macron.
The two are due to have lunch together in Paris ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz at the weekend. Johnson is currently in Berlin, meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the hope of breaking the impasse on the Irish backstop.
Earlier this week Johnson published an open letter to European Council President Donald Tusk and the EU27 member states, calling for the Irish backstop to be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement. Brimming with optimism for unnamed “alternative arrangements”, Johnson suggested pushing a final decision back into the transition period, due to end in December 2020.
However Tusk rejected this, as did the Commission.
Merkel said she was open to any “practical solutions” Johnson could put forward.
But it seems the mood in Paris is resistant to any compromise.
“The scenario that is becoming the most likely is one of no deal,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
“The idea of saying ‘there’s not a deal, so I won’t pay’ does not work,” the official added, regarding the divorce bill.
“We cannot imagine that a country like the UK would back out of an international commitment.”
The official added: “There’s no magic wand that makes this bill disappear.”
The official also suggested that the EU would consider extending Article 50 in the event of a General Election.
Main image: Getty