It was only his second visit to Britain as a new British Prime Minister, but Boris Johnson seemed to feel at home yesterday in the Elysée, the official residence of French President Emmanuel Macron. A little too good perhaps, because “BoJo” promptly planted his foot on top of a coffee table of the stately palace.
Johnson made every effort in the world yesterday to show himself at his best in Paris and was very friendly with the French president and his furniture. While the cameras were turning to record the reception of the new British Prime Minister, Johnson made a few jokes, and also briefly put his foot down on the coffee table in front of him. Macron sat there and laughed diplomatically with Johnson’s frivolities.
It remains to be seen whether the cordial encounter between the two has yielded anything. Because Macron showed little mercy with Johnson around the brexit and continued to defend the Irish backstop. The French president supported the message sent by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday evening: it is up to the United Kingdom to find an alternative solution to the Irish border problem.
“The EU has negotiated an agreement with the UK and it is not up to one Member State to renegotiate it,” Macron said.
“The elements in the agreement, including the backstop, are not merely technical restrictions or legislative bickering, but indispensable guarantees for maintaining stability in Ireland and the integrity of the internal market, which is the foundation of the European project.”
If an alternative to the backstop is already found, those two objectives must be central, the French president emphasized. A solution is possible, preferably within 30 days.
“No one will wait until October 31 to know the right solution.” This will require “good will on both sides,” Macron said, although the solution will “not look completely different from what is in the current agreement anyway” “
Johnson, for his part, again emphasized that many alternatives are possible. “Where there is a will there is a way”.