Boris Johnson says he is ‘confident’ of securing Brexit deal despite EU leaders saying they will not reopen negotiations
Prime minister asks for ‘compromise’ ahead of talks with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron
Despite Brussels’ ongoing refusal to discuss changes to the agreement, Mr Johnson said he believed EU leaders would eventually back down and agree to amend the Northern Ireland backstop as part of a new withdrawal deal.
The prime minister will meet Ms Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday before travelling to Paris on Thursday to meet Mr Macron.
He will hold further talks with the pair, along with other world leaders, at the G7 summit in Biarritz, which is starting on Saturday.
No10 said Mr Johnson would use the meetings to emphasise his commitment to delivering Brexit by 31 October whatever the circumstances.
Mr Johnson’s bold words come after a leaked government dossier revealed the possible chaos that could follow a no-deal exit, including major delays at the UK border, a hard border in Northern Ireland, and shortages of some foods, medicines and fuel.
It also emerged the prime minister held almost an hour-long phone call with his Irish counterpart, Leo Vardakar, on Monday evening, ending with the two leaders agreeing to meet in Dublin early next month.
According to No 10, Mr Johnson indicated the Brexit withdrawal agreement in its current form will not get through the Commons, and that the "backstop would need to be removed".
But they admitted the talks remained deadlocked with Brussels, as Mr Varadkar also reiterated the EU's position that the agreement "cannot be reopened".
Mr Johnson said earlier on Monday the matter of whether his meetings with EU leaders resulted in a Brexit breakthrough was “very much up to our friends”, and added: “I hope that they will compromise.”
The UK will be “ready” to leave the bloc without a deal on 31 October, he insisted.
A Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Johnson would use his meetings with Ms Merkel and Mr Macron to urge them to allow changes to the backstop.
They said: “He has been clear that there cannot be any actual negotiations unless the backstop goes, and that’s the message he has delivered to leaders in his phone conversations and he will do that face-to-face.
“We have been clear that what the EU needs to understand is that unless the withdrawal agreement can be reopened and the backstop abolished there isn’t any prospect of a deal.”
Labour has demanded that parliament be recalled from its summer break to debate the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
Downing Street rejected the calls, and said MPs had previously approved the dates of the summer recess.