The 41-year-old europhile added that it was important to now finalise negotiations and see if there was “something that I hope could fly”. Before adding: “At the end, this is a British responsibility”. He also warned that Britain would have to shoulder the blame should it decide to move ahead with a position on Brexit that is unacceptable for the remaining 27 European states. “If they want to make a move which is compatible with what could be accepted by the 27, it is fine. If they don’t want to make any move or make something which is not accepted, they will have to take the responsibility,” M Macron, who has repeatedly been cast as a hardliner in Brexit negotiations, continued.
With just three weeks to go before the UK is due to pull out of the world’s biggest trading bloc, it remains unclear on what terms it will leave or indeed whether it will leave at all.
The bickering between London and Brussels intensified this week, as both sides scramble to avoid being held responsible for another delay or a disorderly no deal exit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for his part, has insisted Britain will respect the October 31 deadline, though parliament has passed a law saying he must request a delay if he fails to strike an amended deal with the bloc by October 19.
However, hopes for a last-minute divorce agreement were revived on Thursday following a “positive” meeting between Mr Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
“I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty agreed, to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion and to have that done by the end of October,” Mr Varadkar told Irish reporters.
“But there’s a slip between cup and lip and lots of things that are not in my control,” he added.
In a joint statement, the two leaders said they “could see a pathway to a possible deal” and that the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier would meet his British counterpart Steve Barclay in Brussels on Friday.
The Irish border has become the biggest sticking point in negotiations, with both sides struggling to find a way to prevent Northern Ireland from becoming a backdoor into the EU’s single market without border controls.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly said that the backstop – an insurance plan designed to avoid the return of a hard border on the island – must go in order to avoid a no-deal exit.
He argues it would undermine the unity of the UK and leave it tied to the EU’s trading rules indefinitely.
Last week he proposed setting up an all-island regulatory zone to cover all goods which he said could replace the backstop.
He said that Northern Ireland would leave the EU’s customs area along with the rest of the UK and that the province’s institutions would be able to opt to quit the regulatory zone – a red line for Ireland and the EU.
Brussels insists that the backstop is both an indispensable guarantee for the stability of Ireland and a means of protecting the integrity of its single market and that any new ideas put forward by London had to respect that.