Boris Johnson warns against expectations of a 'New York breakthrough' on Brexit negotiations

23 September 2019, 11:43

Boris Johnson is due to meet EU leaders in New York this week
Boris Johnson is due to meet EU leaders in New York this week. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Boris Johnson says he wants to minimise expectations of a breakthrough on Brexit negotiations while he’s in New York this week.

The prime minister is due to meet EU leaders at the annual United Nations General Assembly, but says he doesn’t want to “elevate excessively the belief that there will be a New York breakthrough”.

He added: “There will be discussions about Brexit. I would caution you all not to think that this is not going to be the moment.”

“We will be pushing ahead but there is still work to be done.”

Mr Johnson is due to lay out his ideas for a new Brexit deal in the scheduled meetings, and says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the outlook.

He added that he found it “very encouraging” that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had expressed a willingness to consider dropping the Irish backstop.

On Monday, Mr Johnson is due to meet European Council President Donald Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, before meeting Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the following day.

But it seems the cautious optimism from the prime minister is not shared across the rest of Europe, with Ireland’s deputy Taoiseach Simon Coveney saying there was a “wide gap” between Mr Johnson and EU leaders on a new withdrawal agreement.