British Prime Minister Boris Johnson heads to Paris on Thursday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron who is expected to rebuff his last-ditch efforts to renegotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Macron, who has said previously he is happy to be the “bad guy” on Brexit, roundly rejected Johnson’s calls to scrap a key plank of a deal negotiated between the EU and former British premier Theresa May.
“Renegotiation on the terms currently proposed by the British is not an option that exists, and that has always been made clear by (EU) President Tusk,” Macron told reporters on Wednesday evening.
At stake is the so-called “backstop”, an arrangement guaranteeing that border checks will not return between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland which is part of Britain.
Johnson considers the backstop to be “anti-democratic” and an affront to British sovereignty because it will require London to keep its regulations aligned with the EU during a transition exit period.
The EU argues this is necessary to avoid the re-emergence of border checkpoints which could lead to a return of fighting on the divided island where anti-British violence has claimed thousands of lives.