As Boris Johnson is set to head to Berlin on Wednesday afternoon to meet with Angela Merkel at 5pm, the German chancellor has said that she will not be “giving way” over the Irish border backstop.
Ahead of talks Merkel said that she “will discuss how we can achieve a friction-free exit of Great Britain from the European Union because naturally we have to fight for our economic growth.”
The chancellor said the trade conflict is “clouding” the economic outlook and giving her government a “headache.”
Johnson will be welcomed with open arms, but he will be facing stiff opposition in his first official trip to Germany as prime minister.
Johnson has said that he will enter the Brexit talks with “a lot of oomph” and that there is “a real sense that something needs to be done” over the Irish backstop.
Adding, “We can’t get it through parliament as it is.”
However, Thomas Matussek, a former German ambassador to the UK told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Johnson is in for a “nasty surprise” if he believes that EU leaders will make an 11th hour concession.
Matussek said, “She is absolutely not giving way.
“We cannot throw Ireland under the bus. What message would that send to other members of the EU family?”
The chair of Germany’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Rottgen said, “New rhetoric coming out of Westminster has not changed Germany’s position on Brexit.
“As long as there are no solutions to the border problem on the table, there’s no room for amending the withdrawal agreement.
“Flexible and creative solutions are not enough.”
The senior German MP said that Johnson has blown his chances after the letter he sent to Donald Tusk on Monday, demanding the backstop be scrapped.
Matussek said, “The letter to Donald Tusk is not a serious offer, and Boris Johnson knows it.”
Speaking with journalists in Iceland Merkel said, “The moment we have a practical arrangement with which we can uphold the Good Friday agreement and still define the limits of the domestic market, we won’t need the backstop anymore.
“That means, of course we will think about practical solutions. If you want to find these solutions in the future, you can also find them in the short term. The EU is ready for that.
“But for that we don’t need to reopen the exit agreement. That is a question of the future relationship.”