LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday renewed his vow to take the country out of the European Union by the Brexit deadline, in an apparent contradiction of a government pledge in court days earlier to ask for an extension if there’s no withdrawal deal.
“We will be packing our bags and walking out on” Oct. 31, Johnson wrote in The Sun on Sunday and Sunday Express newspapers.
“The only question is whether Brussels cheerily waves us off with a mutually agreeable deal or whether we will be forced to head off on our own.”
Johnson’s comments are in line with his past repeated assertions on the key question of whether Britain, if it can’t finalize a divorce deal with the bloc, would leave without an agreement. But they’re at odds with a U.K. government document quoted in a Scottish court Friday indicating Johnson intends to comply with a law Parliament passed this month requiring the prime minister to ask for a delay if there’s no deal with the EU in place by Oct. 19.
It’s not clear how the government will resolve the difference between Johnson’s public stance and the position taken in court.
Johnson’s op-ed appeared aimed at adding pressure on the EU to agree to his latest Brexit proposals as the deadline nears. He urged EU negotiators to join the British side to agree on a deal the U.K. Parliament can support.
Also Sunday, Johnson presented his proposals to French President Emmanuel Macron, who said EU negotiators will determine in the coming days whether an amiable divorce deal is possible.
The two leaders spoke about Johnson’s proposals for an accord to soften the blow of Britain’s pending exit from the EU, Macron’s office said in a statement.
Macron, who has resisted a potential extension, told the British prime minister “negotiations should pursue quickly in the coming days” with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, his office said.
Macron said they will determine at the end of the week “whether an accord is possible in the respect of European Union principles” of the single market and stability in Ireland.
Johnson’s proposals focus on maintaining an open border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, which has been the key sticking point to a Brexit deal. The U.K. proposes to do that by keeping Northern Ireland closely aligned to EU rules for trade in goods, possibly for an extended period.
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