Boris Johnson welcomes Angela Merkel to Chequers for talks
By Ryan Hooper and Emma Bowden, PA
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived at Chequers for bilateral talks with Boris Johnson amid concerns over plans to restrict travel to the EU.
The Prime Minister smiled and attempted fist and elbow bumps as he welcomed the German leader at the entrance to his country residence in Buckinghamshire on Friday afternoon, where travel restrictions are expected to be high on the agenda during their tete-a-tete.
Mr Johnson is meeting with his German counterpart as part of an international swan song before she steps down as Chancellor later this year.
Mr Johnson bounded out of the Chequers front door just as Mrs Merkel’s convoy crunched up the gravel driveway on Friday afternoon.
He said: “Angela, how are you? Welcome.”
Mr Johnson then asked: “You’ve been here many times before?”
Mrs Merkel replied: “Twice.”
Mrs Merkel is expected to address a virtual meeting of the Cabinet, the first foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997, while the two leaders are set to discuss relations between London and Berlin.
The pair will also have a working lunch of English asparagus tart, Oxfordshire beef fillet and baked custard tart.
Travel arrangements are likely to be raised, as Mrs Merkel has been pressing EU leaders to impose stringent quarantine requirements on arrivals to the bloc from Britain, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said “double jabs will be a liberator” when asked about reports that fully vaccinated people may be able to travel quarantine-free from amber list countries by July 26.
The two leaders, who met at the G7 summit in Cornwall last month, are also expected to discuss post-Brexit relations between the UK and Germany.
As part of Friday’s visit, days after England crushed Germany’s Euro 2020 dreams, Mr Johnson will also announce the creation of a new academic medal in the German Chancellor’s honour.
An award of £10,000 will be given each year to a British or German woman in science, an area the German Chancellor previously worked in, according to Downing Street.
It will be named after Caroline Herschel, a German-born British astrophysicist who was a pioneer in the field, with the first medal expected to be awarded in early 2022.
The leaders are also expected to announce annual joint meetings of the UK and German cabinets, starting next year, as well as an intention to increase future funding to a bilateral programme for young people in both countries.
Ahead of the visit, the Prime Minister said: “The UK and Germany have a steadfast friendship and a shared outlook on many issues.
“Our scientists, innovators and industrialists work together every day to make the world a better place.
“Over the 16 years of Chancellor Merkel’s tenure the UK-Germany relationship has been re-energised and reinvigorated for a new era.
“And the new joint ventures we will agree today will leave a legacy that will last for generations.”
The Queen is to receive Mrs Merkel at Windsor Castle later on Friday as part of the Chancellor’s visit, which will be her 22nd since taking office in 2005.