/Juncker on Brexit: ‘We can have a deal’

Juncker on Brexit: ‘We can have a deal’

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gives the thumbs up as he speaks during a debate on Brexit at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on September 18, 2019 | Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

Commission chief says ‘if the objectives are met — all of them — then we don’t need the backstop.’

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9/19/19, 7:35 PM CET

Updated 9/19/19, 7:37 PM CET

“We can have a deal” on Brexit, according to Jean-Claude Juncker.

The European Commission president told Sky News that he was doing “everything to get a deal” as he believed a no-deal Brexit would have “catastrophic consequences.”

“I had a meeting with Boris Johnson that was rather positive,” Juncker said of their talks in Luxembourg, just before the now-infamous press conference in which Johnson didn’t take to the podium alongside Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

“I think we can have a deal. I am doing everything to have a deal because I don’t like the idea of a no-deal because I think this would have catastrophic consequences for at least one year,” Juncker said in an interview segment released Thursday. “We are prepared for no deal, and I hope Britain is prepared as well — but I’m not so sure.”

Asked if he had received proposals from the British government for doing away with the Irish backstop, Juncker said they had arrived but he hadn’t had an opportunity to read them.

The Commission president said he asked Johnson “to make concrete proposals as far as so-called alternative arrangements are concerned, allowing us and Britain to achieve the main objectives of the backstop. I don’t have an emotional relationship to the backstop. If the results are there, I don’t care about it.”

Asked if that meant that the backstop could be removed, he said: “If the objectives are met — all of them — then we don’t need the backstop. It was a guarantee, not an aim by itself.”

Juncker also said he thinks “Brexit will happen.”

The full interview with Juncker will air on Sunday.

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