When the UK was locked in talks with the EU over its withdrawal agreement – French President Macron insisted that Johnson had until “the end of the week” to change his withdrawal proposal.Mr Macron emphasised during the row in October last year that the UK’s stance would not be accepted in Brussels – leading many to fear a no deal Brexit would become a formaility.
At the time, the Guardian reported on Macron’s conversation with Johnson, claiming the French President had demanded the Prime Minister “overhaul” his Brexit plan.
An official at the Elysee Palace said of the conversation: “Boris Johnson presented his latest proposals.
“The president told him that the negotiations should continue swiftly with Michel Barnier’s team in coming days, in order to evaluate at the end of the week whether a deal is possible that respects European Union principles.”
Brexit news:Macron and Johnson clashed over the withdrawal deal
Brexit news: The row came from the Irish border
After declining to meet with the prime minister in person, Macron further insisted during a phone call on Sunday that the talks would only be advanced through Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator.
The disagreement came as the EU resisted the idea of a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Macron’s message to Johnson echoed the words of the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, who reportedly told the prime minister in a call on Saturday that the EU27 would not accept an agreement that created a customs border in Ireland.
Brexit news: Barnier and Frost have led the negotiations
He tweeted: “Important questions remain about the British proposals.”
In June 2019, French President Macron told Mr Johnson that if the UK tried to withhold the £39bn divorce bill, talks could be scuppered.
He said the divorce payment could be treated like a sovereign debt default. Nations which do not repay money they have borrowed – those which default on their sovereign debt – are punished by international markets.
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A source close to Mr Macron said an attempt to evade the bill would meet “consequences”.
They said: “Not honouring your payment obligations is a failure of international commitments equivalent to a sovereign debt default, whose consequences are well known.”
This week, Johnson has told Macron that Brexit trade talks do not need to drag on until the Autumn as he attempts to break the deadlock in the negotiations over an EU trade deal.
The stalemate has come as the EU demanda continued access to UK fishing grounds, with Mr Barnier claiming that if this isn’t agreed, Britain will lose access to European markets.