efe-epaParis

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron in France Thursday for Brexit talks during which the French President reiterated that the controversial Irish Backstop was indispensable to safeguard the integrity of the common market and political stability in the Republic of Ireland.

In a joint appearance before a meeting at the Elysee Palace, Johnson said that his government did not want to reimpose border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and added that he believed there was a technical solution to the UK's exit from the European Union scheduled for 31 October.

The Irish Backstop, which Johnson opposes, is a mechanism designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland post-Brexit.

Johnson suggested alternative solutions to the Backstop could include electronic controls to oversee trade between the two Irelands and added that several UK MPs had already put forward alternative solutions to avoid a hard border.

The British PM met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday where she gave the UK government 30 days to find a workable solution to the crisis.

"The backstop has always been a fall-back option until this issue is solved and one knows how one wants to do that," Merkel said ahead of the meeting.

"It was said we will probably find a solution in two years. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?" she added.

Macron seemed far more skeptical and reminded the press that the safeguarding mechanism had been agreed taking into consideration the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and that what had been negotiated had to be honored.

The French president added that nobody would be waiting until 31 October to establish an alternative to the backstop and that any future negotiation would take place without making significant changes to the agreement that had already been negotiated by former UK PM Theresa May.

He added that the responsibility to renegotiate something that had been agreed by consensus within the bloc "did not correspond to any one European country".

"We are preparing for all scenarios, including a no-deal one," Macron said, adding that he was certain the UK's future "could only be in Europe" because "geography is stubborn." EFE-EPA

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