Boris Johnson has yet to leave the UK to meet any of the European Union’s leaders since formally taking over from Theresa May on July 25. Talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are widely seen to be critical as the clock ticks down to Britain’s departure from the European Union on October 31.
The EU figureheads will be hoping Mr Johnson will come loaded with plans and ideas on how he intends to avoid a no deal Brexit in just over two months.
But the meeting with Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel will come as a huge snub to Leo Varadkar, as a date for a meeting between Mr Johnson and the Irish Prime Minister is yet to be confirmed.
Last weekend, an Irish Government spokesman said: “The Taoiseach has invited the British Prime Minister to Dublin for talks on Northern Ireland and Brexit.
“Their offices are in contact to agree a date for these talks in the coming weeks.
Brexit news: A date for a meeting between Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson is yet to be confirmed
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“Such a meeting would give both sides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their respective positions.
“As has repeatedly been made clear, the withdrawal agreement and the backstop are not up for negotiation.
“Any discussions on changes to the political declaration would occur between the UK and the EU.”
Downing Street has confirmed Mr Johnson has accepted Mr Varadkar’s invitation, but a date for the meeting still hasn’t been set.
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But Mr Johnson will however speak to Mr Varadkar, as well as European Council President Donald Tusk, by telephone, the Guardian has reported.
It could be the first clash between the Prime Minister and Mr Tusk, who warned earlier this year there would be a “special place in hell” for politicians who had championed Brexit “without a sketch of a plan” as yt how to make it successful.
The flurry of Brexit talks comes ahead of next weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France, where Mr Johnson is likely to again warn EU leaders to give ground on the Irish backstop or face a no deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister has continued to insist the UK will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal, “do or die”.
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He wants to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement struck between Theresa May and Brussels earlier this year, primarily to scrap the current Irish backstop proposal.
This was central to Mrs May’s Brexit deal being resoundingly defeated in the House of Commons on three separate occasions before she resigned in June.
But the EU and the bloc’s leaders have insisted this will not be renegotiated under any circumstances.
Ahead of next week’s meetings, a leaked paper from the German government suggested Mr Johnson’s insistence the UK will definitely leave the EU on October 31, regardless of any progression in talks, has so far failed to force a rethink in Brussels.
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The document, prepared by offices for German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz before talks in Berlin with Chancellor Sajid Javid earlier on Friday, emphasised the importance of rejecting any renegotiation despite Mr Johnson’s “tough negotiating position”.
The paper, leaked to German newspaper Handelsblatt, makes clear the country’s Government is confident their British counterparts will carry out their Brexit threat at the end of October, that that the EU has not been swayed to renegotiate the deal already agreed.
The German officials also warn of a “high probability” of a no deal Brexit as it is “currently unforeseeable that Prime Minister Johnson will change his tough negotiating position”.
But the document adds preparations from Brussels for such a scenario are “largely complete” and the bloc should stand firm against British pressure.
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The EU is predicting a “big moment” from Mr Johnson at the G7 summit, the leaked paper adds, where the Prime Minister will likely pile pressure on EU leaders to re-think their tough stance.
Following his meeting with German counterpart Mr Scholz in Berlin earlier today, Mr Javid reiterated retired Mr Johnson position, and said Britain will be ready on October 31 whatever happens.
He tweeted: “Enjoyed meeting Olaf Scholz in Berlin today. The UK will definitely be leaving the EU on Oct 31st – it is in our mutual interest to do so with a Deal, but we will be ready to leave with No Deal.”