Boris Johnson was seen in seemingly high spirits with Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron at the G7 summit after a tense exchange of words with Donald Tusk over who would be at fault in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
Mr Tusk, the president of the European Council, said when he arrived in Biarritz today for the three day gathering of the leaders of the wealthiest nations in the world that he would not ‘co-operate on No Deal’.
He suggested Mr Johnson should do everything he can to prevent going down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’.
But the PM hit back, telling reporters on the flight to the French coastal town before his arrival this afternoon that it was Mr Tusk who risked being given that title.
While tensions may be running high for the crucial negotiations ahead of an October Brexit, Mr Johnson and the French First Couple were all smiles as they met on the shores of Biarritz this evening.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, whose country is hosting the high-stakes meetings this weekend, were seen welcoming US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of a working dinner at the Biarritz lighthouse tonight.
The G7 leaders dined on a three-course meal prepared by chefs from the Elysee, with a starter of Piperade – a traditional regional dish of onion, green peppers and tomatoes – followed by a main course of tuna, with a peach dessert to finish.
In a tense exchange of words with Mr Tusk earlier today, Mr Johnson had said: ‘As I’ve made it absolutely clear, I don’t want a No Deal Brexit but I say to our friends in the EU: if they don’t want a No Deal Brexit then we’ve got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty.
‘If Donald Tusk doesn’t want to go down as “Mr No Deal Brexit” then I hope that point should be born in mind by him too.’
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome Boris Johnson as he arrives for a banquet during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 24, 2019
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen gesturing while the French President and his wife pose for a photograph
The Presidents and First Ladies of the United States and France pose for this photograph ahead of negotiations in Biarritz
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, is seen welcoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of a working dinner at the Biarritz lighthouse this evening
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron welcome Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 summit
The German Chancellor smiled and gestured with the French First Couple ahead of the working dinner in Biarritz tonight
Tensions were running high between Mr Johnson and European Council President Donald Tusk earlier today, but relations between the British Prime Minister and France’s First Couple seemed much more amicable in Biarritz this evening
Pictured left: Emmanuel Macron welcomes Boris Johnson. Right: Mr Macron with US President Donald Trump, along with First Ladies Melania and Brigitte
The Prime Minister embraced French President Emmanuel Macron at the summit in southern France today, and took part in an animated discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
Mr Johnson is preparing for his first face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump since becoming PM tomorrow morning.
The British premier is due to use the sit down to tell Mr Trump that the NHS must be ‘off the table’ in any trans-Atlantic post-Brexit trade deal.
As world leaders prepared for tense meetings this weekend police fired water cannon and tear gas at about 400 anti-capitalist protesters blocking roads in a town near the summit’s venue.
A few protesters threw rocks at police but the crowd in Bayonne was largely peaceful, with some activists dancing.
Like old friends: Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron both seemed delighted to welcome Mr Johnson ahead of dinner this evening
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife first lady Melania Trump, ahead of a working dinner
Left to right: Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Boris Johnson with French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, centre, talks to President of the European Council Donald Tusk, left, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson and Mr Macron posed together for an impromptu photo opportunity at the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz, south-west France
Police fired warning shots and then used a water cannon. The incident took place near a bridge barricaded by police as part of extensive security measures around the Group of Summit meeting that opens Saturday.
Earlier Saturday thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully from the area to the Spanish border to demand more action against climate change and economic inequality.
Mr Johnson and Mr Trump have laid the groundwork for a strong friendship since the former took office in July but the breakfast meeting is unlikely to be plain sailing with potential clashes expected on trade policy and whether Russia should be readmitted to the G7.
Mr Johnson said when he stepped off the plane this afternoon that he would challenge Mr Trump about the US trade war with China.
Mr Johnson said: ‘As I’ve made it absolutely clear, I don’t want a No Deal Brexit but I say to our friends in the EU: if they don’t want a No Deal Brexit then we’ve got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty’ (pictured: Mr Johnson, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Giuseppe Conte and Donald Tusk)
Donald Tusk suggested Mr Johnson should do everything he can to prevent going down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’ (pictured: The Prime Minister with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron)
Their meeting will come before Mr Johnson sits down with Mr Tusk when he will urge him to reopen Brexit talks after Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel said the UK should have 30 days in which to come forward with backstop alternatives.
Mr Tusk sounded open to the plan earlier today but the clash that followed between the two men suggests their meeting will be anything but straightforward.
Mr Johnson began the summit with a bilateral meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau as he said the leaders would be ‘working flat out’ over the next three days to address the world’s most pressing problems.
Mr Macron, the host French president, said he wants the summit to focus on addressing environmental challenges and climate change with leaders expected to discuss the Amazon rainforest fires.
Police fire water cannon at protestors in Bayonne, France, August 24 as world leaders and protesters are converging on the southern French resort town of Biarritz for the G7 summit
Pictured: A protester kicks away a teargas canister fired by police in Bayonne, France, on August 24
More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz
President of the European Council Donald Tusk speaks during a press conference on the first day of the G7 summit in Biarritz, August 24
Boris Johnson arrived in Biarritz this afternoon for his first G7 summit as UK Prime Minister
Mr Johnson flew into a Brexit storm as a furious war of words erupted between the PM and Donald Tusk
Mr Tusk had warned Mr Johnson against going down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’ but Mr Johnson hit back and said it was the European Council president who risked receiving the title
Speaking to reporters as he arrived in Biarritz, Mr Johnson promised to urge the US to cool its trade war with China
Mr Tusk, pictured today in Biarritz, also warned Mr Johnson he will not help deliver a No Deal Brexit
It is likely to be an eventful three days for Mr Johnson as he makes his debut on the world stage after winning the keys to Number 10.
He will have to walk the tightrope of diplomacy if he is to make it to the end of the summit without harming relations with Brussels and Washington.
Asked this afternoon if he would tell Mr Trump that he should not escalate the current trade war with China, Mr Johnson replied ‘you bet’ as he called for a ‘dialling down of tensions’.
He added: ‘The three obsessions I have for the UK and the world at this G7 summit are clearly the state of global trade, I’m very worried about the way it’s going, the growth of protectionism, of tariffs that we’re seeing.
‘The UK thrives mightily on being an open, outward-looking free trading nation.’
Mr Johnson said his other two ‘obsessions’ for the summit were addressing threats to bio-diversity and to improve female education around the world.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson shares a few words with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at Biarritz, France
After their photo together they also shared a few words with members of the media. The UK Prime Minister arrived today for the G7 summit in Biarritz, south-west France
On Brexit, Mr Johnson reiterated that the UK will not introduce any ‘checks or controls’ at the Irish border and that he believed there are a ‘large range of alternative arrangements’ which could replace the backstop.
He also said he did not want to get into a debate with Mr Tusk about how either of them will be remembered.
He said: ‘I have great relations with our friends and partners in the EU and intend to continue to improve them the whole time without getting into any post Brexit eschatology with the president of the council.
‘I think it’s Parliament’s job now to respect not just the will of the people but to remember what the overwhelming majority of them promised to do over and over and over again and that is to get Brexit done, to respect the will of the people and to come out of the EU on October 31.
‘That is what I am confident our Parliament will do. I am confident that they will understand that their historic function is to respect the will of the people, the democratic mandate, and get it done.’
Mr Tusk set the scene for a tense meeting with Mr Johnson tomorrow as the former Polish prime minister suggested history would not judge the former mayor of London kindly if he oversaw a chaotic split from Brussels.
‘He will be the third British Conservative prime minister with whom I will discuss Brexit,’ Mr Tusk said.
‘The EU was always open to co-operation when David Cameron wanted to avoid Brexit, when Theresa May wanted to avoid a No Deal Brexit, and we will also be ready now to hold serious talks with Prime Minister Johnson.
‘One thing I will not co-operate on is No Deal. I still hope that Prime Minster Johnson will not like to go down in history as “Mr No Deal”.
Mr Johnson appeared in good spirits when he stepped off the plane in sunny Biarritz this afternoon
The PM was given the guard of honour and red carpet treatment offered to all the world leaders who attend the G7
Mr Johnson’s first meeting of the summit was with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau as he said leaders will be ‘working flat out’ over the next three days
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau smiled and shook hands for the cameras. The meeting comes after sources said Ottawa had ‘gone berserk’ after the UK Home Office decided to revoke the citizenship of Jihadi Jack
‘We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all member states including Ireland, if and when the UK Government is ready to put them on the table.’
Mr Tusk’s last sentence will boost optimism that a fresh deal could yet be done to avoid the UK leaving the EU without an agreement on October 31.
But his vehement opposition to a No Deal split will put him on a collision course with Mr Johnson who has repeatedly promised to deliver Brexit with or without a deal by the Halloween deadline.
Mr Johnson will be hoping that Mr Tusk will follow Mr Macron’s and Ms Merkel’s lead after they both signalled a willingness to ditch the backstop if the UK can provide a practical replacement.
However, the EU is deeply sceptical that Britian will be able to come up with anything good enough to allow the border insurance policy to be scrapped.
The Irish backstop was inserted in the original Withdrawal Agreement to ensure there is no return to a hard border in the event Brussels and Britain cannot agree terms on a future trading relationship.
It would effectively see existing EU rules on customs kept in place to ensure frictionless trade on the island of Ireland could continue.
But Brexiteers hate it because if implemented it would last indefinitely, restrict the UK’s ability to strike its own trade deal and getting out of it would require the agreement of both sides.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly labelled the protocol ‘anti-democratic’ since he won the keys to Downing Street last month.
His first meeting of the summit was with Mr Trudeau as the UK PM dismissed suggestions that the G7 was a ‘wonderful boondoggle here in some posh hotel in Biarritz’.
He said world leaders will be ‘working flat out on issues that will make a material difference to the quality of life of everyone in our countries and around the world’.
He also stressed the importance of the alliance between the UK and Canada as he said the two nations are ‘side by side’ on all major issues.
The war of words between Mr Tusk and Mr Johnson came as US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrived in the French coastal town for the three day get together of the world’s most powerful leaders
Mr Trump will have a breakfast meeting with Mr Johnson tomorrow morning – the first time they will have met since the latter became PM
Mr Trump sparked a row over trade policy before he arrived in Biarritz with EU leaders saying they would respond to increased US tariffs by imposing their own
Emmanuel Macron, pictured in south west France today, said he wants the G7 summit to focus on tackling environmental challenges and climate change
Climate change protesters demonstrated against the G7 as they marched in Hendaye, south west France today
Mr Johnson yesterday urged caution on the prospects of a new Brexit deal being done with Brussels as he said: ‘I want to caution everybody, OK? Because this is not going to be a cinch, this is not going to be easy. We will have to work very hard to get this thing done.’
Before setting off for the G7, Mr Johnson warned his Brexit critics that Britain will not be retreating from the world stage after it has left the EU.
He said: ‘Some people question the democratic decision this country has made, fearing that we will retreat from the world. Some think Britain’s best days are behind us.
‘To those people I say: you are gravely mistaken.’
He added: ‘We will stand up for liberty, democracy, the rule of law, equality and human rights — the ideals that we share with our friends and allies.
‘We will remain at the heart of the alliances that span the world. And we will continue to use the breadth of our expertise in diplomacy, defence and development to uphold and safeguard the global order on which peace and prosperity depends.’
His comments will be seen as a rebuke to Mr Macron who suggested earlier this week before the pair met in Paris that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could see Britain as a ‘junior partner’ in a position of ‘historic vassalisation’.
Mr Johnson will meet the US president – who has repeatedly praised his leadership qualities – early on Sunday morning.
The pair spoke on the phone on Friday evening ahead of their meeting, their fourth official phone call since Mr Johnson took office a month ago and the second call this week.
Mr Macron and Mr Trump met for a pre-summit lunch at the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz this afternoon
Angela Merkel arrived in France after a whirlwind week in which she travelled to Iceland and The Hague in the Netherlands and hosted Mr Johnson in Berlin for Brexit talks
Mr Johnson is expected to warn Mr Trump during their showdown that the NHS is ‘off the table’ for any post-Brexit trade deal.
Number 10 has insisted neither the NHS, nor a watering down of animal welfare or food hygiene standards, will be up for discussion in trade negotiations with the White House.
Downing Street reportedly fears that the two issues of accusations of selling off the NHS and allowing the import of US-produced chlorinated chicken could be used by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, as ammunition during a potential snap general election.
While a broad free trade agreement – or at least a series of smaller deals – with the US are seen as a major post-Brexit prize, the British side is adamant it wants to secure the right deal rather than a quick agreement.
Before the summit had even started Mr Trump and EU leaders had exchanged trade war threats.
Mr Trudeau arrived in the French coastal town last night ahead of what is expected to be a tense three days of talks with trade tensions likely to dominate
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, and his wife Akie are pictured arriving in Biarritz today
Mr Trump flew into Biarritz on Air Force One hours after promising to impose punishing tariffs on French wine imports if Mr Macron doesn’t withdraw a tax on US tech giants.
Mr Tusk said the EU ‘will respond in kind’ and added: ‘The last thing we need is a confrontation with our best ally, the United States.
‘This is not our initiative, this trade and tariff struggle, but we have to be ready and we are ready.’
The G7 has traditionally been a forum for frank yet cordial discussions between world leaders but the dynamic has changed since Mr Trump’s election in 2016.
European leaders are expected to use the summit to mount tough calls for action against fires in the Amazon rainforest despite Brazilian right wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s angry response to what he sees as outside interference.
The summit is attended by the leaders of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US with the EU also sending a representative.