LONDON/BRUSSELS – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker by the end of Monday to urge the leaders to support his Brexit deal, according to the Sunday Times. Johnson will offer the three leaders the option to either help him deliver a new deal this week or to agree on a friendly version of a no-deal Brexit by October 31, the newspaper said, citing a source familiar with the conversations.
“He’ll be talking to Merkel, Macron and Juncker by the end of Monday to see if there’s agreement on a ‘landing zone’ for Northern Ireland and customs,” the source was quoted as telling the newspaper.
“The alternative is to agree on a friendly version of no deal and finish it that way,” the source was quoted him.
Security chiefs have convinced Johnson that a no-deal Brexit will heighten the danger of extremist attacks in Northern Ireland and on the mainland, along with sectarian violence in cities such as Glasgow, according to the report. As a result, the British Prime Minister desperately wants a Brexit deal, the Sunday Times reported.
“Any of these risks we could cope with, but taken collectively they would be a massive challenge to the UK and no one would choose to go down that route,” Johnson told a senior Conservative in a private conversation, according to the newspaper.
A European Union source cited by the Sunday Times said the chances of a deal at Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels were “50-50”. On Friday, Johnson had declined to say whether Northern Ireland will stay in the EU customs union after Brexit. A Downing Street source told Reuters on Saturday that Britain remains a long way from agreeing on a final Brexit deal and the next few days will be critical if it is to agree departure terms with the EU.