Created with Sketch.
Emmanuel Macron has set the stage for a frosty showdown with Boris Johnson in Paris today after he insisted the terms of Britain's divorce from the European Union cannot be changed.
The French president told reporters that renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement struck with Theresa May is 'not an option that exists'.
He also took aim at the idea that a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the US would be enough to offset the damage done to the British economy by a No Deal Brexit.
He said he did not believe Mr Johnson would agree to the 'historic vassalisation' which would be required to secure a deal from Donald Trump's White House and would make the UK the 'junior partner' of the US.
Mr Macron's provocative comments suggest Mr Johnson will receive an altogether colder reception in Paris when he arrives at lunchtime than the warm welcome he was given by Angela Merkel in Berlin last night.
Mr Johnson was given an unexpected Brexit boost after the German chancellor gave the UK 30 days to come up with alternatives to the Irish border backstop.
The PM has insisted since he took office that the 'anti-democratic' protocol must be deleted for a deal to be done.
But the EU had so far refused to budge with Ms Merkel's comments representing a breakthrough.
However, an agreement between Britain and the EU still appears a long way off with Downing Street moving overnight to downplay the significance of Ms Merkel's comments.
Brussels will be deeply sceptical that the UK will be able to come up with alternatives to the backstop which are strong enough to ditch the insurance policy which was designed to ensure there is not a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event no agreement is reached on future trading terms.
It came as an extraordinary war of words broke out between Brussels and the British government after Phil Hogan, the Irish EU Commissioner, reportedly slammed Mr Johnson as an 'unelected prime minister' and claimed the PM was nothing like his political hero Winston Churchill.
Government sources hit back and accused Brussels of 'deliberate personal attacks'.
Boris Johnson, pictured alongside Angela Merkel in Berlin last night, was given an unexpected boost after the German chancellor gave the UK 30 days to come up with an alternative to the backstop
But Emmanuel Macron, pictured on July 22, immediately dashed any sense of Brexit optimism as he said renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement was 'not an option'. He will meet with Mr Johnson in Paris today.
Mr Johnson has vowed to take the UK out of the EU 'do or die' by October 31 and with or without a deal.
Today he will explain his position to Mr Macron but he will be braced for a combative lunch with the French president who yesterday spent two and a half hours talking to reporters, spelling out his opposition to reopening the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mr Macron told them: 'Renegotiation of the terms currently proposed by the British is not an option that exists, and that has always been made clear by President [Donald] Tusk.'
Mr Macron also rubbished the idea that a US trade deal could save the UK in the event of a No Deal split and suggested an accord with Mr Trump would leave Britain humiliated.
He said: 'Can [the cost of a hard Brexit] be offset by the United States of America? No. And even if it were a strategic choice, it would be at the cost of a historic vassalisation of Britain.
'I don't think this is what Boris Johnson wants. I don't think it is what the British people want.
'The British are attached to being a great power, a member of the Security Council.
'The point can't be to exit Europe and say "we'll be stronger" before, in the end, becoming the junior partner of the United States, which are acting more and more hegemonically.'
The difficulty facing Mr Johnson in Paris today was also illustrated by comments made by a French presidential aide yesterday who said No Deal was now viewed as the most likely outcome.
The aide also insisted the UK will pay all of the £39 billion Brexit divorce bill even if it quits the bloc without an agreement.
'The scenario that is becoming the most likely is one of No Deal,' the official said.
'The idea of saying "there's not a deal, so I won't pay" does not work. 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.'
Ms Merkel, pictured alongside Mr Johnson in Berlin last night, said that while she hoped a deal could be done but insisted Germany is ready for No Deal
Mr Johnson welcomed her 30 day timetable as he told the German chanceller: 'I am more than happy with that'
The so-called Irish