Boris plays down Brexit breakthrough talk

NEW YORK: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has played down hopes of a breakthrough in Brexit talks this week when he spends time with European leaders on the sidelines of a United Nations general assembly meeting in New York, but says he maintains his “cautiously optimistic” outlook over the long-term resolution of the on-going political stand-off.
Speaking to reporters on his way to New York, where he will meet European Council President Donald Tusk and European Union leaders including France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar, Johnson said he would “caution you all not to think this is going to be the moment”.
“I don’t wish to elevate excessively the belief that there will be a New York breakthrough,” he said. “I’m not getting pessimistic – we will be pushing ahead, but there is still work to be done.” The main stumbling block remains issue of the status of any post-Brexit frontier between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and EU member state the Republic of Ireland.
A hard border between the two countries would be very difficult from a practical point of view and also hugely politically sensitive, given the long history of violence affecting the area, known as the Troubles, which was brought to a close two decades ago.
The suggestion of a so-called backstop solution, which would potentially see Northern Ireland remain subject to some EU trade and customs regulations for an unspecified period of time, is deeply unpopular with some Brexit supporters, as they see it as Britain surrendering control of part of its territory.
They want the idea removed from any negotiations, and Johnson admitted there were “still gaps, still difficulties” over how to deal with this.
He did, however, say that EU leaders “no longer necessarily have an attachment to the backstop. that’s very encouraging.”
“What we are working for – and we can see the way to do it – is a solution that enables the UK and the EU respect the principles of the single market, to allow an open border in Northern Ireland, to respect the achievements of the Northern Irish peace process, but also to allow the whole of the UK to come out of the EU.”
“And there is a way to do that. I think colleagues around the table in Brussels can see how we might do that. What it will take is the political will to get there, and I think it’s fair to say I’m still in the same position I was – I think cautiously optimistic is about right.”
(The Daily Mail-China Daily News
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