A no-deal Brexit seems the most likely scenario for Britain's departure from the European Union, a French presidential aide said Wednesday, a day before Boris Johnson visits Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, rejected Johnson's demand that the so-called "backstop" mechanism to avoid border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland be scrapped.
And he also contradicted Johnson's claim that if Britain leaves the EU without a deal it would not have to pay $47 billion divorce bill that has already been negotiated.
"The scenario that is becoming the most likely is one of no deal," the official said ahead of the first meeting between Macron and Johnson since the British premier took office a month ago.
"The idea of saying 'there's not a deal, so I won't pay' does not work," the official said. "We cannot imagine that a country like the UK would back out of an international commitment."
The official added: "There's no magic wand that makes this bill disappear."
The French official said that a letter sent by Johnson to EU Council President Donald Tusk on Monday asking for what he called the "anti-democratic" backstop to be withdrawn "posed a problem" for the whole EU.
The backstop is a mechanism to avoid border checks between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, with checkpoints there removed as part of a 1998 peace deal on the divided island.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday of the economic impact of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, hours before she was to receive Johnson on his first foreign visit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier warned of economic impact of a chaotic no-deal Brexit.