FRANCE will refuse to discuss Brexit with Boris Johnson unless the new Prime Minister moves on his red lines, Macron’s state minister for European affairs, Amélie de Montchalin, said last week. Mr Johnson has warned European leaders the “anti-democratic” Irish backstop must be abandoned if the UK is to strike a divorce deal.
However, France is refusing to meet Mr Johnson’s conditions and has demanded the new Tory leader soften his position. Mme de Montchalin told the public broadcaster France 2: “We want to work with the new prime minister. And above all, we need to. The UK is a partner which will still be a partner after Brexit. It’s a country that will stay very close to us. But in diplomacy, if we have absolute red lines, they often create tensions.”
She added that while the October 31 deadline was not set in stone, Britain would need “a very, very good reason to push back the divorce date”.
France wants to “get past the stage” of negotiating the Brexit deal with Mr Johnson and begin “calmly” mapping out Britain’s future relationship with Brussels, France’s EU chief said, stressing the current withdrawal agreement was not up for renegotiation.
She said: “We have always said that if the United Kingdom wants to leave the European Union in an orderly manner, the accord is the best solution we have.”
Mme de Montchalin added the withdrawal deal agreed by Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May last year was the result of two years of hard work between London and Brussels.