LONDON, (Reuters) – The outlines of a new agreement output of the United Kingdom of the european Union are now “clear” that the negotiations between London and Brussels are now at a crucial stage, said Monday the british secretary at the Foreign Office, Dominic Raab, in spite of the objections of the Europeans.
“We have shared a lot of details and contours of an agreement are now very clear”, he said on the BBC, a few hours before a meeting between the Prime minister and Boris Johnson, the president of the european Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the negotiator of the EU, Michel Barnier.
“I think that this is an important step, the First minister relies on the discussions that have been going on since he took office”, he continued.
“Our demands are very clear : we call for the withdrawal of the clause’s anti-democratic ‘backstop’ and we want the best free trade agreement that will govern our future relationship”, he declared, saying be hoped that an agreement will be reached at the european summit of 17 and 18 October.
Boris Johnson will try Monday to convince Jean-Claude Juncker to replace the safeguard clause (“backstop”) supposed to prevent the reinstatement of controls at the border between the Republic of Ireland and the british province of Northern Ireland, a requirement rejected by Brussels.
Questioned on his arrival at Luxembourg, the british Prime minister said to remain “prudent”.
In an interview Sunday with radio Deutschlandfunk, Jean-Claude Juncker reaffirmed that there was no question of going back on the agreement negotiated with Theresa May, and the Commons have rejected three times.
“I believe that it is necessary that we maintain good relations with Britain, and I’m not particularly optimistic when it comes to finding alternative solutions which would allow us to limit the ‘backstop'”, he warned.
“We have no idea of what is Britain (…) and we are still waiting for alternative proposals. I hope that we can have it all, but time is running out.”
“There are a lot of people in the Uk who have a favourable opinion of the ‘no-deal’, without having the slightest consideration to the implications (such an outcome)”, he added. “It would be a chaos without a name (…) and it would take years to get everything back in order.”
Boris Johnson remains committed to his country to leave the european Union 31 October, with or without agreement, despite the adoption by the House of commons a law which requires of him that he is seeking a postponement of the date of Brexit if it proves to be unable to find an agreement with Brussels.
(Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton, Nicolas Delame for the French service, edited by Sophie Louet)