German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she sees “possibilities” for a solution to the deadlock over the Irish backstop, paving the way for a Brexit deal.
Speaking this evening ahead of bilateral talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Merkel told reporters: “I see possibilities [to solve the backstop impasse] through, for example shaping the future relationship in such a way as to address this point in a sustainable manner, and a firm manner.”
It would require “hard work,” she added.
Noting that the backstop had been intended as a last resort, for if no solution could be found, Merkel added: “Maybe we can find [solution] in the next two years, maybe we can find it in the next 30 days.”
At this Johnson clenched his fist and mouthed “yes, come on”
Reiterating his view that the backstop should be dealt with as part of the future relationship, Johnson stressed that he felt the issue could be solved through an alternative arrangement involving a trusted trader scheme and electronic pre-clearing. He told reporters there were “abundant” options.
The Prime Minister added he was “very glad” that Merkel had “set a blistering timetable of 30 days – I am more than happy with that”.
Johnson’s dinner with Merkel comes ahead of a lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron tomorrow. However the mood in Paris was quite different.
“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.”
Main image: Getty