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Macron tells Boris: The EU will decide by the end of this week whether a Brexit deal is possible

Johnson yesterday said the UK is “walking out” of the EU on 31 October.

macro PA Images PA Images

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson will attempt to save his Brexit plan this week after his French counterpart warned that the EU would decide within days whether an agreement would be possible.

Johnson told Emmanuel Macron that Brussels should not be lured into the “mistaken belief” that Britain could extend its membership of the bloc beyond 31 October. 

But in a telephone call yesterday, the French president reportedly informed Johnson that the EU will decide at the end of the week whether a deal is possible.

An Elysee official told the BBC: “The President told [Johnson] that the negotiations should continue swiftly with Michel Barnier’s team in coming days, in order to evaluate at the end of the week whether a deal is possible that respects European Union principles.”

Downing Street said Johnson made clear in calls to European leaders over the weekend that it was the final chance to strike a deal, but said the EU must match the compromises the UK has made.

The PM said he wanted to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides – and claimed that his new proposals commanded the support of MPs.

Number 10 warned Brussels that it would be an “historic misunderstanding” to believe the so-called Benn Act could prevent a no-deal Brexit – despite being designed to do so.

A senior Downing Street source said: “This is the chance to get a deal done: a deal that is backed by parliamentarians and a deal which involves compromise on all sides.

“The UK has made a big, important offer but it’s time for the Commission to show a willingness to compromise too. If not the UK will leave with no deal.

“The surrender act and its authors are undermining negotiations, but if EU leaders are betting that it will prevent no-deal, that would be a historic misunderstanding.”

Johnson is expected to speak with other European leaders today, and could travel to the continent later in the week in a bid to secure an agreement.

It is understood that the Government will consider publishing the full legal text, which has so far only been shared confidentially with Brussels, if it is deemed helpful to progress the negotiations.

Finnish prime minister Antti Rinne told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in Germany after speaking to the PM that Johnson now understood “what a big mess this is”.

“That’s why I fear that the October summit would be more about extension than concrete solutions,” he said.

A decision is expected to be made today on whether Johnson can be forced by the courts to send a letter requesting an Article 50 extension.

Documents submitted to the Court of Session on behalf of Johnson were read out on Friday, in which he made it clear he will not attempt to frustrate the Benn Act.

But The Telegraph reported that the PM is willing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to avoid having to write a letter asking for a delay to Brexit.

In Westminster, Jeremy Corbyn will meet the leaders of other opposition parties to scrutinise the Government’s new Brexit proposals and decide the next steps to “hold the Government to account”.

The Labour leader will meet the SNP’s Ian Blackford, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and the Greens’ Caroline Lucas – as well as Anna Soubry of the Independent Group for Change and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts – this afternoon.

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