Brexit: Did Merkel set a 30-day Irish backstop deadline?

Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks outside 10 Downing Street London Wednesday

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said the sharp rise was due to "a few stops getting triggered as a result of the more conciliatory tone from Merkel and Macron over looking at Irish backstop alternatives".

Boris Johnson has been pictured putting his foot on a table in France's Elysee Palace during Brexit talks with Emmanuel Macron. He called Macron by his first name, spoke at times in French, even casually put his foot on Macron's coffee table in a bid to appear relaxed.

"What Chancellor Merkel said yesterday, and which is in line with the substance of our talks, is that we need visibility in 30 days", Macron told reporters standing alongside Johnson.

They added that the Withdrawal Agreement already says it can be replaced if a workable solution to avoiding border infrastructure is brought forward, but no such solution has been found so far.

He said the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier could be involved in finding an answer "without totally reshuffling the Withdrawal Agreement".

Speaking ahead of the meeting with Johnson, Merkel stressed that the backstop was a position of last resort and once "a practical solution" was found for the Irish border which allows trade and secures the Good Friday Agreement, it would not be needed. Johnson is strongly against having any checkpoints on that border and does not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently than the rest of the UK.

The British pound jumped more than half a cent on Thursday to almost a one-month high after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a solution to the Irish border issue could be found before the October 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.

In Berlin, Johnson again stressed his view that the backstop "has grave, grave defects for a sovereign, democratic country like the UK" and added that the provision "plainly has to go".

"Whatever happens with Brexit, it is our joint ambition, the United Kingdom and France, that we should deepen and intensify our economic interpenetration", said Johnson.

However, Tusk brushed off Johnson's proposal and politicians close to Merkel have backed this stance, saying Johnson has taken completely the wrong approach.

"It is not about 30 days".

That was seen by British officials as a sign that the European Union may end its refusal to discuss changes to an existing exit deal, which has been rejected by Britain's parliament three times.

Mr Macron said the Withdrawal Agreement and Irish backstop are "not just technical constraints or legal quibbling" but are "genuine, indispensable guarantees" to preserve stability in Ireland and the integrity of the single market. Why not? Then we are a lot further, "Merkel said. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?"

Some analysts see a risk of relations between Macron and Johnson becoming stormy in public, which could lead to a blame game about a "no deal" Brexit.

Many investors say a "no-deal" Brexit would hurt the economies of Britain, the European Union and the wider world, roil financial markets and weaken London's position as the pre-eminent worldwide financial centre.

The frank comments could make Mr Johnson's trip to the Elysee Palace a dicey affair, with the Conservative Party leader set to meet his French counterpart for lunch at his official residence to discuss changing the terms of Britain's exit.



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