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Merkel gives Brexit ultimatum to Johnson, urges to resolve 'Irish backdrop' issue in 30 days

ANI  |  Europe 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to come up with a new plan for the Irish border backstop-"Brexit" in 30 days.

Addressing a joint news conference in Berlin, on Wednesday evening (local time), Merkel told Johnson that he needed to come up with specific proposals on alternatives to the so-called 'Irish backstop' -- the divisive part of the Brexit deal that the UK government wants to abandon -- after he doubled down on a push to remove it without providing any further details, CNN reported.

The reintroduction of border posts on the frontier between Northern Ireland, which remains part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, forms one of the biggest contentions of Britain's departure from the European Union (EU).

Earlier, former British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal avoided the reintroduction of a so-called "hard" Irish border, because of the built-in transition period that keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU.

The problems pour in if there's no agreement on what to do after the transition period ends in 2020.

The Irish border issue has infuriated hard-line Brexiteers, who fear that the UK will never "properly" leave the bloc. Those people want to be free of the customs union, in order to forge international trade deals that would require the UK to be free of EU regulations on issues like agriculture, fisheries, food standards and the environment.

Merkel today said the "UK has to tell us what ideas it has" to solve the backstop issue, adding that "it is not the job of the chancellor" to find a solution.

"We always said we would find a solution in the coming two years," Merkel said. "But possibly, you might find the solution in 30 days, why not? And then we would be a step forward," she added, stressing that every effort should be made to establish a clear plan for the future relationship between Britain and the EU.

Meanwhile, Johnson said he welcomed the "blistering timetable" and that the "onus is on us" to find a practical solution to the political deadlock.

Johnson, who is currently on a visit to Germany -- the first foreign trip as British Prime Minister -- is pushing for the EU to ditch the so-called Irish backstop clause.

He will continue his trip on Thursday in Paris with the French President Emmanuel Macron.

Johnson sent the EU a letter outlining his position on Monday. In it, he called for the Irish backstop provision to be scrapped. He said it was "anti-democratic and inconsistent with the country's sovereignty as a state."

However, Johnson did not suggest any alternative plan.

On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk stressed that the backstop was "an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found."

"Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support reestablishing a border. Even if they do not admit it," Tusk added.

A lack of a Plan B would mean the UK is more likely to crash out of the EU without a deal. This would, according to the government's own forecasts, plunge the country into economic chaos. It could also spark food, medicine and fuel shortages.

Johnson has indicated he is prepared to take the country out of the EU without an agreement.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 22 2019. 02:20 IST
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