August 22, 2019
Emmanuel Macron has warned the UK he is prepared to be the “hard boy” of the EU in fresh Brexit talks. 
Macron Warns Johnson: France Will Be Hard Boy Of EU In Fresh Brexit Talks
During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Paris, the French president said while he regretted Britain’s decision to leave the bloc, his interest was in “protecting and strengthening the European project” and that the EU can’t “ignore” the Brexit vote.
The two leaders are meeting at the Élysée Palace as the new PM launches his attempt to break the Brexit deadlock, while pumping billions into preparing for no-deal at home. 
It comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Johnson he had 30 days to produce a fresh Brexit plan, including a solution to the controversial Northern Irish backstop, that EU leaders could accept. 
Speaking ahead of lunch with the PM, Macron said France had prepared for Britain’s possible exit without a deal, adding: “My position has always been to respect the sovereign choice made by the British people to leave the European Union.
“I regret it. Had I been a British voter I would have made a different choice but I respect democracy and the wishes of people and I therefore believe we now have to implement this choice.”
He later added: “I’ve always been presented as the hard boy in the group. But that’s just because I’ve always been clear.” 
In recent days, Johnson has clashed with Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar over his bid to perform a “backstop-ectomy” on the withdrawal agreement. 
Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan even launched an attack on Johnson, calling him an “unelected” leader who was “gambling” with peace in Northern Ireland.
 While Johnson claimed a hard border to be avoided with the use of technology, Macron said he doubted Johnson was able to produce “something smart within 30 days”. 
He added that the Withdrawal Agreement and Irish backstop – which have been three times rejected by MPs – are “not just technical constraints or legal quibbling” but “genuine, indispensable guarantees” to preserve peace in Ireland the integrity of the single market. 
Macron backed Merkel’s call for the UK to come forward with proposals within 30 days.
“What Angela Merkel said yesterday and which is very much in line with the discussions we have had since the very beginning is that we need visibility in 30 days,” he said, before adding: “We will not find a new solution in the 30 days that will be very different from the existing one.” 
In one of the more positive aspects of the appearance, both leaders agreed to “deepen” the UK and France’s relationship. 
Macron smiled as Johnson highlighted how French and British companies support each other’s economies, with the PM saying: “Just as French buses, I’m proud to say, ply the streets of London thanks to the unique openness of the UK economy, it is also a stunning fact that your beautiful TGVs run on steel railways made in Scunthorpe by British Steel.
“Not many people know that, in fact, the British ambassador didn’t know that until I just told him.”
And on EU citizens rights after Brexit, Johnson said the two leaders shared common ground.
He said: “I know of course, monsieur le president, you will want to treasure and support the hundreds of thousands of British citizens living here in France as much as we in the UK will treasure and support 3.2 million EU nationals, including French citizens, in our country.”Related... Macron Taunts Johnson: UK Could Become Trump's 'Vassal' After No-Deal Brexit Boris Johnson Is 'An Unelected PM' Gambling With Irish Peace – EU Official Boris Johnson Is Meeting EU Leaders – What's His Game?
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