German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson with military honors for a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Latest: Merkel: Irish Brexit border issue can be solved

August 21, 2019 - 1:07 pm

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on Britain's plan to leave the European Union (all times local):

7 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it may be possible to remove the key hurdle standing in the way of an orderly British departure from the European Union before the Oct. 31 exit date.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that a solution for the Irish border issue might be found "in the next 30 days" if all sides work hard.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he won't accept the so-called Irish backstop clause in the divorce agreement his predecessor negotiated with the EU last year and would rather leave the bloc without a deal than keep it in.

Speaking alongside Merkel before the two leaders held talks, Johnson acknowledged that the onus was on Britain to put forward proposals that would satisfy both sides. Pro-Brexit hardliners in the U.K. fear the backstop could leave Britain tied to the EU's trade rules indefinitely.


6:25 p.m.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he sees little chance for fresh talks between the European Union and Britain on the U.K.'s departure from the bloc.

The German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that Steinmeier said "all options that can now be proposed have basically already been the subject of talks."

He was quoted as saying that "I therefore think there's little likelihood that negotiations will get going again."

Steinmeier reportedly questioned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's earnestness in seeking new Brexit talks, saying that "possibly it's more about attributing blame" than about substantial changes to the divorce deal negotiated last year.

The German president, whose role is largely ceremonial, warned against underestimating the consequences of a disorderly no-deal Brexit, saying this could reopen many issues that have already been resolved between London and Brussels.


5:05 p.m.

A French diplomat says Britain's no-deal exit from the European Union at the end of October now is the central scenario.

The diplomat, speaking anonymously in accordance with the French presidency's customary practices, said the EU will continue discussions with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson but will remain firm on its lines of negotiation: protecting the European single market and preserving peace and stability in Ireland.

Johnson wants to scrap a contentious clause designed to prevent the return of checks along the Irish border, which London says could leave Britain tied to the bloc indefinitely.

Without that clause, there's no deal possible, the French diplomat said.

Johnson traveled to Berlin Wednesday to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel before heading to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

—By Sylvie Corbet


2:40 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she plans to discuss with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson how Britain's exit from the European Union can be "as frictionless as possible."

Merkel told an aviation conference in Leipzig that her talks with Johnson later Wednesday will include how to achieve this goal.

Britain and the remaining 27 EU countries have been at loggerheads recently over a clause in the exit agreement concerning the Irish border. Johnson wants the so-called backstop removed, while Brussels says it's a necessary insurance policy to safeguard the integrity of the bloc's single market.

Merkel cited aviation as one area that will require a new accord between the EU and Britain, saying such an agreement would take time to negotiate. She also noted that as a third country, Britain won't enjoy all the benefits EU members enjoy.


9:45 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Berlin as Britain and the European Union are hurtling toward a costly no-deal Brexit in October.

Despite growing tensions between Britain and the EU, Merkel said Tuesday the main stumbling block concerning Britain's departure from the European Union — the Irish border issue — can be removed if a "practical solution" is found.

Merkel said the remaining 27 EU countries are willing to find such a solution but don't want to reopen a carefully negotiated Brexit deal agreed last year.

Merkel, who is set to welcome Johnson with military honors on Wednesday evening, also said whichever path Britain chooses the EU is willing to cooperate closely on economic and security issues.

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