Boris Johnson mocks Angela Merkel’s biggest crisis as Chancellor in new Brexit deal demand
Prime Minister Boris Johnson sparked laughter from some members of the press in Berlin on Wednesday as he repeated a German phrase. The phrase, “Wir schaffen das”, is associated with remarks made by the German Chancellor in 2015, when discussing how Germany would cope with the migration crisis. The remark, which translates as “we can do it”, sparked laughter during the press conference, and the German Chancellor was also seen smirking after the comment from Mr Johnson.
Speaking about Brexit, the Prime Minister said: “I just want to be absolutely clear. With all our German friends and with the German Government.
“We, in the UK, want a deal. We seek a deal. I believe we can get one, we can do it. Wir schaffen das, I think is the phrase.”
Some members of the audience were overheard laughing at the remark from the Prime Minister as Mrs Merkel was seen smirking.
Mr Johnson continued: “Clearly, we cannot accept the current withdrawal agreement.
We seek a deal. I believe we can get one, we can do it. Wir schaffen das, I think is the phrase
“Arrangements that either divide the UK, or lock us into the regulatory and trading arrangements or the EU the legal order of the EU without the UK having any say on those matters.
“We do need that backstop removed. But, if we can do that, I am absolutely certain we can move forward together.
“I want to make one crucial point, which is, we in the UK are absolutely dedicated to the protection of the rights of the 3.2million EU nationals in our country who do so much, who contribute so much, and of course, our German friends.”
Paul Waugh, Executive Editor for HuffPost UK, and BBC Radio 4 Week in Westminster host, wrote on Twitter: “Neat German quote from @BorisJohnson ‘wir schaffen das!’ – we can do it – which is Merkel’s own political slogan.
“But double-edged – as it was her quote in response to the Syrian migrant crisis. Johnson will know that she was pilloried repeatedly by her critics for using that phrase during migration influx.”
Prime Minister Mr Johnson travelled to Germany on Wednesday to discuss Britain’s departure from the European Union amid the Brexit deadlock.
Mr Johnson has demanded changes to the withdrawal agreement, with the ejection of the controversial backstop mechanism, before the UK returns to discussions with the Brussels bloc.
But, so far the EU has refused to budge and said the withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation pushing the UK towards a no deal exit from the bloc at the end of October this year.
As Mr Johnson arrived for the meeting in Berlin, the pair shook hands before they sat side by side in silence, watching a military parade, before giving a press conference.
During the press conference, Mrs Merkel said the backstop has always been a “fallback position” and would only come into effect if no other solution could be agreed that would protect the “integrity of the single market”.
She added: “If one is able to solve this conundrum, if one finds this solution, we said we would probably find it in the next two years to come but we can also maybe find it in the next 30 days to come.
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“Then we are one step further in the right direction and we have to obviously put our all into this.”
During the press conference alongside Mrs Merkel, the Prime Minister said he believed there are “alternative arrangements” to solve the controversial backstop issue.
Mr Johnson said: “We do think there are alternative arrangements that could readily be used to address the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Irish border and you’ll have heard them before, whether it is trusted trader schemes or electronic pre-clearing, all that type of solution and more besides is what we will be wanting to discuss.”
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal at the end of October this year.
Ahead of the talks, Mrs Merkel said she would use their time to discuss how to achieve “the most friction-free British exit from the European Union possible” in order to protect economic growth.
Mr Gove, speaking during a visit to Holyhead Port in Anglesey, North Wales, said: “We’re going to do everything we can to try to get a deal and Boris is seeing Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in order to try to see if there’s movement on the European side, but so far we haven’t seen much movement from the EU and its leaders so we have to plan prudently in case we don’t get a deal.”
European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said: “The EU27 have had from the outset – and continue to have now – one single, united position on Brexit matters.”
Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, said a no deal Brexit is much more likely now than it has ever been as a result of Mr Johnson’s approach.
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