The French president has given Boris Johnson until the end of the week to fundamentally revise his Brexit plan, in a move that increases the chances of the negotiations imploding within days.
The UK proposals tabled last week are not regarded in Brussels as being a basis for a deal and Emmanuel Macron emphasised it was up to the UK to think again before an upcoming EU summit.
After declining to meet with the prime minister in person, Macron further insisted during a phone call on Sunday that the talks would only be advanced through Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator.
“Boris Johnson presented his latest proposals,” an official at the Élysée Palace said of the conversation. “The president told him that the negotiations should continue swiftly with Michel Barnier’s team in coming days, in order to evaluate at the end of the week whether a deal is possible that respects European Union principles.”
Barnier has already said he does not have a mandate from the EU27 to agree a deal on the terms so far presented by Downing Street.
The prime minister’s chief negotiator, David Frost, has also been repeatedly told there will no last-minute negotiations with leaders at the summit on 17 October.
The British proposals involve the return of a customs border on the island of Ireland and a Democratic Unionist party veto on Northern Ireland staying in the EU’s single market for goods, an arrangement designed to avoid checks on the border.