Encouraged by Johnson's visit, UK officials now hoping rest of EU agrees to work on Brexit solution

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is hoping the rest of the European Union falls in behind France and Germany and agrees to work on solving a deadlock over Brexit, with officials sensing a glimmer of hope after meetings this week, but conscious of the need for a wider consensus in Europe.

Reuters August 24, 2019 05:10:43 IST
Encouraged by Johnson's visit, UK officials now hoping rest of EU agrees to work on Brexit solution

Encouraged by Johnsons visit UK officials now hoping rest of EU agrees to work on Brexit solution

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is hoping the rest of the European Union falls in behind France and Germany and agrees to work on solving a deadlock over Brexit, with officials sensing a glimmer of hope after meetings this week, but conscious of the need for a wider consensus in Europe.

Britain is on course to leave the EU, its biggest trading partner, on Oct. 31 without any formal deal to soften the unprecedented divorce, unless both sides agree to reopen stalled talks and find a way to resolve their differences.

This week, some British newspapers cheered what they called a major breakthrough and sterling rose after both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron offered Prime Minister Boris Johnson what he described as "positive noises" on their willingness to consider an exit deal agreement.

But Berlin, Paris and Brussels said the bloc's position had not altered: the Withdrawal Agreement struck last year by then-prime minister Theresa May will not be changed much. And the clock is ticking.

British officials were also keen to douse talk of a big diplomatic victory but said they were pleased at the way the prime minister's first foreign visits had gone and that there had been a clear willingness to talk about solutions.

A separate source in Johnson's office said that while the meetings had been a success in terms of building rapport between the prime minister and the EU's two most powerful leaders, the rest of the bloc needed to show the same desire to work on a solution.

The source said Johnson would not make the mistake of thinking Merkel alone could deliver a new deal for Britain, criticising previous governments for being too keen on the idea that the German chancellor could be Britain's "saviour".

In an encouraging sign, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he would be willing to listen to alternative plans for the Irish backstop - the biggest stumbling point to agreement - but warned there was no easy solution.

The need for broader support is likely to be relayed to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council that brings together all EU member states' leaders, when he meets Johnson on Sunday at a G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz.

The meeting with Tusk, who has been a consistent critic of Britain's decision to leave the EU and its handling of negotiations, will give some indication on how much appetite there is to work for a deal among the rest of the bloc.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.