German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed Wednesday that the unity of the remaining 27 EU members was of the utmost importance as the bloc awaited a detailed new Brexit plan from Britain.
After talks with her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, Merkel told a joint press conference that they had agreed to withhold judgement on the new proposals until the EU had them in writing and leaders had discussed them.
“We will take a very close look at the proposals,” she said.
“I can’t say anything about them yet — we agreed that we would first evaluate them with each other. For us, it is very important that we 27 stick together.”
The German leader added that the EU’s chief negotiator had the full backing of the member states.
“We trust Michel Barnier and we will discuss it (Britain’s new exit plan) further.”
Merkel said that she and Rutte agreed that they still hoped for an “orderly Brexit” but that both countries were “prepared” if those efforts failed.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would submit “compromise” plans for a Brexit agreement to Brussels on Wednesday.
In his closing speech to his Conservative party’s annual conference, Johnson said the proposals would address the contentious issue of how to keep open Britain’s border with Ireland.
But he again warned that Britain was prepared to leave the EU on October 31 without a deal, despite fears it could usher in an economic slump.
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said he had not seen the plans in detail yet, but said the initial reports suggested “it’s not good news”.