Johnson ‘marginally’ more optimistic on Brexit deal after G7

BIARRITZ, France (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that he was “marginally more optimistic” on the chances of clinching a deal for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) after talks at the G7 this weekend, but acknowledged it would be difficult.

“I am marginally more optimistic,” he said after intense contacts on Brexit at the G7 with fellow leaders.

But he added: “It will be difficult… there is a substantial disagreement” between Britain and the EU.

Johnson insisted that it was up to the EU to improve the chances of a deal but needed to negotiate a new agreement on leaving without the so-called “backstop” for Ireland.

The backstop provision, strongly opposed by Johnson’s government and Brexit supporters, is meant to guarantee that border checks will not return between Ireland, an EU member, and Britain’s Northern Ireland.

The EU has so far rejected negotiating a new deal, which was approved by the government under Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May but repeatedly rejected by the British parliament.

“All the statistical estimates I give for a deal… they all depend exclusively on the willingness of our friends and partners (in the EU) to compromise on that crucial point and get rid of the backstop and the current withdrawal agreement.”