The quest for a Brexit breakthrough

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Macron still hope a solution can be found to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Macron, however, has shown little willingness to compromise regarding the backstop. How do things stand in the game of poker over Brexit?

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The Spectator (GB) /

PM in a bind

The Spectator explains why a no-deal Brexit is the best outcome for the British prime minister if he wants to win elections:

“The trouble is that a good proportion of Brexiteer voters are utterly opposed to the Agreement in any form. As the fundamental problems with the WA reveal themselves over time to the broader public, it is Conservatives who will get the lion's share of the blame. The European elections in May showed how vulnerable the Tory vote is to a squeeze from the Lib Dems on one side and the Brexit party on the other. Nigel Farage would be licking his lips at the prospect of fighting a general election in those circumstances. The outcome is unlikely to be pretty for Boris.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Johnson's defeat is Macron's victory

This spring Macron played a key role in making sure that the Brexit would not be postponed even longer. For him the fact that Johnson's attempts to use the looming uncontrolled exit as leverage have been in vain so far is a victory, Ria Novosti writes:

“Johnson is speculating that the EU will give in to London's demands at the last moment and agree to waive the (for Britain extremely unfavourable) terms negotiated by Theresa May. So far, however, such speculation has been in vain. It seems that the trick won't work, for there's at least one major European leader for whom a British catastrophe would be a personal victory. The brighter the British economy 'burns', the greater Macron's triumph will be.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Merkel and Macron up the pressure

Johnson will have a hard time trying to pass off his visits to the German chancellor and the French president as a success, De Standaard notes:

“Finding a solution is much more difficult. Macron and Merkel also made that very clear. He shouldn't even entertain the idea that the EU will go back on the exit agreement with the Irish backstop. ... If Johnson is able to present a feasible alternative, Europe would take a serious look at it. And the ever gung-ho British prime minister is more than willing to take up this challenge. ... But European negotiation circles are sceptical. ... What's more, the impatient President Macron has stressed that if there is a solution its contours must soon be made clear.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Chancellor playing right into Johnson's hands

Angela Merkel has made a faux pas by saying that a solution for the backstop could perhaps be found within 30 days, comments Der Standard:

“With this interpretation [Johnson] will try to hold his parliamentary opponents, above all the wavering Tories, in check: Let me work in peace until 19 September, this is what the chancellor wants. The House of Commons will only be in session for two weeks in the first half of September when the summer break ends before it takes another break for the party conference. In the second half of October it will be too late for a vote of no-confidence aimed at preventing No Deal. When they meet again at the G7 summit in Biarritz, Merkel will have a chance to correct Johnson's misinterpretation.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

The British PM's science fiction scenario

The "alternative arrangements" with which Johnson wants to prevent the backstop are nothing but a diversionary tactic, Deutschlandfunk sighs:

“For years now he's been evoking a mysterious technology with which truckloads of goods crossing the Irish border can be controlled without customs houses or border guards. ... If it actually existed, it would be a sensation, because it would render the backstop - which the British so despise - superfluous. However, no one has ever got a glimpse of this technology, let alone been able to test it. For the simple reason that it doesn't exist. So far this technology is nothing but science fiction. And of course Boris Johnson knows it. But he couldn't care less about a solution to the backstop conflict. ... What he wants is a no-deal Brexit and new elections.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

The backstop is undemocratic

The Irish Independent can understand why the backstop is so unpopular in the UK:

“If the backstop as it currently exists were to come into effect, new laws that affect many aspects of the daily lives of people in Northern Ireland would come from the EU. That would happen without the North's voters sending representatives to the parliament which makes those laws - the European Parliament. This disenfranchisement would occur because Northern Ireland would leave the UK's market so that it could remain in the EU's market. ... Since it was put on the table, the position of the Irish Government has been to ignore or dismiss claims that the backstop breaches the principle of consent.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Merkel less obstinate than Brussels

At last a leading EU politician has conceded that there could be alternatives to the backstop, The Daily Telegraph comments jubilantly:

“Angela Merkel was by no means dismissive. She conceded that the new UK government did not like the backstop and that it might be possible over the next 30 days to devise an alternative strategy. To that end, Mr Johnson needs to come up with workable proposals on the border, after which Mrs Merkel said a way could be found to reach a mutually beneficial trade agreement. Her approach contrasted with the hard-line rejectionism of Brussels, so much so that commentators who take their lead from the unelected bureaucrats were caught out and could not accept what they were hearing.”

Der Bund (CH) /

Blackmail must not be rewarded

The EU must not allow Johnson to divide it, warns Der Bund:

“Johnson is banking on the threat of a disorderly Brexit breaking up the united front and driving certain governments to force Brussels to reach a compromise. Indeed, some states and sectors have more to lose than others if tariffs are imposed and border controls at ports lead to chaos. Germany's export industry has the most to worry about. But giving in is not an option because blackmail should never be rewarded. Otherwise Boris Johnson and the supporters of a hard Brexit in his party will simply demand further concessions.”