On the heels of British Prime Minister Johnson’s first trip abroad since taking residence at 10 Downing Street, world leadership will discuss the fate of Brexit at the G7 this weekend. However, discussions this week have left some feeling uncertain about the potential Brexit divorce deal.
Britain, typically a pillar of Western economic and geopolitical stability, is facing the biggest geopolitical shift in the nation’s history since World War II. More than three years after the 2016 referendum, in which the British public voted to leave the EU, terms of the departure are still unclear. In Johnson’s visit with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, the French premier said time was running out for a clean Brexit divorce deal before an Oct. 31 deadline.
Before the meetings at Elysee Palace, Johnson spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, who pushed for an effective safety net provision with the UK-Irish land border. Macron also emphasized the importance of an Irish “backstop” solution, but prioritized the integrity of the EU single market and stability of the contentious Irish isle.
“I want to be very clear,” Macron said. “In the month ahead, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement that deviates far from the original.”
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, futilely grappled with an agreement, often stalling on the issue of the Irish border for two years, before resigning.
Merkel said at The Hague she did not expect an Irish border solution within the next 30 days, but efforted to “highlight the urgency”.
After the German leader’s comments, The British pound sterling rose 1% against both the dollar.
“GET BREXIT DONE”
Johnson claimed a deal was possible before Oct. 31 in talks with Macron, and that he was left “powerfully encouraged” by from his discussion with Merkel Wednesday.
“Let’s get Brexit done, let’s get it done sensibly and pragmatically and in the interests of both sides and let’s not wait until October 31,” Johnson said in France. “Let’s get on now in deepening and intensifying the friendship and partnership between us.”
Johnson, who campaigned on a Brexit hardline, expects the imminent threat of ‘no-deal’ Brexit fallout will finally pressure top EU leaders Merkel and Macron to submit to a deal.
Despite, the impending turmoil, Macron remained firm that the EU would recover from a Britain-free bloc and extended the responsibility to Johnson. He impressed the importance of an Irish border solution.
“If we cannot find alternatives, then it will be because of a deeper problem, a political one, a British political problem, Macron said,”
“And for that, negotiations can’t help. It will be up to the prime minister to make that choice, it won’t be up to us.”
Investors have expressed concerns of widespread damage throughout the markets with ‘no-deal’ scenario, decimating London as a pre-eminent international financial center. British businesses and other industries are beginning to prepare for the mounting turmoil, with a leaked government dossier reporting that the nation will experience food, fuel, and drug shortages.
IRISH BORDER QUESTION
Once Brexit unfolds, the Irish border will be the only remaining land border between EU’s single market and Britain. To prevent it from becoming a ‘backdoor’ for the EU, the “backstop” proposal provides a temporary customs union. However, Ireland believes this measure would undermine the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland three decades of conflict between British unionists and Irish nationalists.
Johnson also disagrees with border checks and said in Paris, “Under no circumstances will the UK government be instituting, imposing, checks or controls of any kind at that border. We think there are ways of protecting the integrity of the single market and allowing the UK to exit from the EU.”
Post-Brexit Britain is expected to increase reliance on its special relationship with U.S. and Johnson has reportedly been in frequent talks with President Trump since his instatement. The G-7 summit will be the first time the two meet in person, since Johnson took office.