Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said today that the backstop arrangement in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement can only be “overwritten” if an alternative solution is found in the declaration on the future relationship.

Speaking at her annual summer press conference, she stuck to the EU’s line that removing the language on the backstop, which aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, is dependent on finding “a solution for the management of the border” that means no physical border posts between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (maintaining the Good Friday Agreement), but that also maintains the integrity of the EU’s single market.

Both candidates to take over as Conservative leader — and therefore as British prime minister — next week, insist they will look to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement ahead of Brexit day on October 31. Both have also rejected the backstop arrangement, including a hypothetical five-year time limit (even though this has not been offered by the EU).

Merkel would not comment on prospects for the U.K. staying in the EU, but praised outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May for her “reliable” cooperation.

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