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Johnson and Tusk trade 'Mr No Deal' jibes as G7 summit kicks off

Johnson has said the European Union must drop its insistence on the Irish backstop to avoid a “no-deal” Brexit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

BRTISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson and EU Council President Donald Tusk have clashed over Brexit on the first day of the G7 summit in France. 

As world leaders descend on Biarritz insouthern France, Johnson reiterated his position that the European Union must drop its insistence on the Irish backstop to avoid a “no-deal” Brexit.

“I don’t want a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. I say to our friends in the EU, if they don’t want a ‘no-deal’ Brexit then we have got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty,” Johnson told reporters on the way to the summit in Biarritz.

Tusk earlier today urged Johnson not to go down in history as “Mr No Deal”.

During a press conference in Biarritz, Tusk warned: “One thing I will not cooperate on is a ‘no deal’, and I still hope that Prime Minister Johnson will not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal.”

“We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all member states, including Ireland. If and when the UK government is ready to put them on the table,” he added.

Johnson later responded: “If Donald Tusk does not want to go down as ‘Mr No Deal’ Brexit then that point should be borne in mind too,” Johnson said.

At stake is the “backstop”, a provision guaranteeing that border checks will not return between Ireland, an EU member, and Britain’s Northern Ireland.

Johnson has called it “anti-democratic” because it would require London to keep its regulations aligned with those of the EU during a transitional period when the country is no longer a member of the bloc.

The EU argues the backstop is necessary to avoid the re-emergence of a border on the island of Ireland. 

Johnson has staked his leadership on a “do or die” withdrawal from the EU by the current deadline of October 31.

Earlier today, Tusk warned that “trade wars will lead to recession, while trade deals will boost the economy” during a speech at the G7 summit of world leaders in Biarritz, France. 

Leaders of the G7 club of countries are meeting in southern France today, with the burning Amazon rainforest, falling stock markets and divisions over trade and Brexit providing the backdrop to proceedings.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Tusk cautioned that US President Donald Trump’s escalating trade skirmishes with China and Europe could force economies around the world into recession.

Tusk also said it was hard to imagine the EU bloc of countries ratifying its trade pact with South America’s Mercosur grouping as long as Brazil fails to curb the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest. 

The European Union “stands by the EU-Mercosur agreement but it is hard to imagine a process of ratification as long as the Brazilian government allows for the destruction” of the Amazon, he said as world leaders flew in for the G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz.

- © AFP 2019

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