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Angela Merkel challenges Boris Johnson to solve Brexit border crisis

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The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged Boris Johnson to identify a Brexit solution within the next month after he insisted that Britain could not sign up to the current EU withdrawal deal.

Speaking at a press conference with the British prime minister in Berlin, Merkel said that it was possible to secure a new deal and prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.

“It was said we will probably find a solution in two years. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?” she told Johnson.

Johnson welcomed the Chancellor’s “blistering timetable” and insisted that Britain was actively seeking a new deal with the EU.

“We do need that backstop removed. But if we can do that then I’m absolutely certain we can move forward together,” he said.

However, he repeated his insistence that Britain could not sign up to the Northern Ireland “backstop” element of the current deal, which is designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland.

Under the terms of the backstop, the UK could be kept indefinitely within EU trading and customs rules, in order to prevent border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Merkel replied that the backstop was necessary until a new relationship between Britain and the EU is agreed, or until an agreeable alternative is proposed by the UK.

“The backstop has always been a fall-back option until this issue is solved,” she said.

In the absence of such a proposal, she insisted that Germany is “prepared” for a no-deal exit.

The exchange followed reports that EU leaders increasingly believe that Britain is heading for a no-deal Brexit.

The French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly believes that a no-deal Brexit is now the “most likely” outcome at the end of October.

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