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Face off at the Élysée Palace as Johnson meets 'hardest in the gang' Macron

Macron said he hopes for a ‘useful’ month of talks on Brexit.

Brexit The UK and French leaders at the Elysee Palace today. Source: PA Images

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL Macron has called for a “useful” month of talks to find a solution to the Brexit impasse, adding that any plan should be within the framework of the existing withdrawal agreement.

Macron’s comments came following a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Paris.

Macron’s mention of a specific timeline followed German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying yesterday that a solution to avoid the backstop taking effect may take “two years or 30 days”.

Merkel’s mention of “30 days” was seized on by many in the British media as a potential  opportunity.

But Macron, who admitted he had a reputation as the “hardest in the gang” on Brexit, has rejected Johnson’s calls to scrap the backstop.

“We need to try to have a useful month,” Macron said, adding it was possible to “find something intelligent” in the next 30 days.

He added, however: “I want to be very clear. In the coming month, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement that is far from the fundamentals.”

The Paris visit was the second leg of Johnson’s first foreign trip as UK Prime Minister.

He added that he had been “powerfully encouraged” by his talks with Merkel in Berlin yesterday.

“I think what Angela Merkel was saying last night, if I’ve got her correctly, is that if we can do this in two years then we can do this in 30 days. And I admire that can-do spirit that she seemed to have there and I think she’s right. I think the technical solutions are there and are readily available,” Johnson said.

This weekend, Macron, Merkel and Johnson will meet US President Donald Trump and the rest of the G7 leaders at a summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2019

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Rónán Duffy

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