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Johnson short on detail on Brexit plans as diplomatic tour comes to an end at G7

Boris Johnson was speaking as the G7 conference draws to a close.

Boris Johnson offered few new Brexit details during a press conference at the G7.
Boris Johnson offered few new Brexit details during a press conference at the G7.
Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON RETURNS to London leaving both the UK and the EU none the wiser about what happens next after several days of diplomatic activity ended at the G7 today. 

As Johnson’s brief tour of Europe ended at a G7 meeting in Biarritz, the UK Prime Minister revealed little of how the next several weeks will play out as he re-affirmed his pledge to leave the EU by 31 October. 

Johnson was in Berlin last Wednesday, followed by Paris on Thursday, to discuss Brexit and the impasse over the backstop. 

In a press conference marking the end of the summit, Johnson told reporters that it was “the job of everybody in parliament” to get Brexit finished. 

However, Johnson refused to address the ongoing questions over whether he would consider proroguing or suspending parliament to secure a no-deal Brexit. 

Questioned on his refusal to rule out an idea first floated several weeks ago, he told reporters: “I rely on parliamentarians to do the right thing and to honour the pledge they made to the people of this country.”

Johnson and European Council President Donald Tusk had clashed over the weekend over changes to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May.  Boris Johnson said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, the UK would be free from financial obligations to the EU.

Today, the EU warned that the UK will have to pay up – even if it does leave without a deal. 

Johnson acknowledged that agreement will be “difficult” to reach. “There is substantial disagreement. And my job is to make our case,” he said. 

However, despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s supposed “30 day” negotiation deadline for an alternative solution to the backstop, Johnson completes his trip from Berlin to Biarritz without revealing how the backstop will be changed or whether a hard border can be avoided in Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  

Today, Johnson refused to answer questions on whether he would consider calling an election in the coming weeks – instead placing the responsibility firmly on the House of Commons to deliver on the 2016 referendum. 

“People have just about had enough of this conversation,” he said. But Brexit can only end, he said, “when we come out of the EU on October 31″. 

“And that is really what I call on all my fellow MPs to deliver. And I hope and believe that they will,” he said. 

Also speaking at the G7 this afternoon was US President Donald Trump. In a wide-ranging press conference, part of which took place alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump said he would be ready to meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani if the circumstances were “correct” amid ongoing tensions over denuclearisation. 

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Trump also suggested that a deal with China could be reached in the escalating trade war with Beijing. 

“I’m not sure they have a choice,” he said after earlier remarks indicating there could be a thaw in the year-long dispute that has seen tariffs imposed on billions of dollars’ worth of goods by both sides.

“I don’t mean that as a threat. I don’t think they have a choice,” Trump said.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019

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