Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

Boris Johnson to meet Leo Varadkar for private Brexit talks

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption What could Brexit mean for sausage rolls Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption What could Brexit mean for sausage rolls
Russell Knight | 10 October, 2019, 12:37

Mr Varadkar held a 40-minute call with the UK Prime Minister on Tuesday evening, with Number 10 saying both sides had "strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron meet at the Elysee Palace to prepare for upcoming summits where Brexit will top the agenda. Johnson's stance appears more positive: the prime minister tweeted to say he was "still cautiously, cautiously optimistic".

The downbeat assessment from Mr Barnier was echoed by the Taoiseach, who said the PM was installing an obstacle to progress by insisting that Northern Ireland must leave the customs union with the rest of the UK.

The EU has said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to have workable proposals by the end of the week if there is to be any chance of a breakthrough at the October 17-18 EU summit.

It is thought the Prime Minister could use the occasion to force a showdown with MPs determined to block a no-deal Brexit.

"That's their position at the moment and that's one that is a great difficulty for us", Mr Varadkar told the Irish Parliament.

Mr Hunt said: "I'm sure they would love to keep Northern Ireland in the single market and customs union in perpetuity".

"To put things very frankly, though, and to try and be objective, (at) this particular point, we are not really in a position where we are able to find an agreement", he said. "So Parliament won't wear it, so the Government, this Government, has made clear that we will not accept the backstop". "It replaces an operational, practical, legal solution with one that is simply a temporary solution", Mr Barnier said. European Commission's spokesperson also commented on the negotiations. "And we are not accepting this blame game which started in London", he said. "Personally, I don't exclude a deal", Juncker told the European Parliament's plenary session.

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"My worry is that they're about to make the same profound miscalculation that 'oh we can just hang tight, see if there's an election and if Boris Johnson wins it we can negotiate on the same deal but if he doesn't, so much the better because maybe we'll have a second referendum'".

Last night Downing Street would not rule out running a general election campaign on a no deal manifesto.

On Wednesday, the Bank of England said that its financial systems were ready for a no-deal Brexit.

"As far as the Irish Government is concerned, we do want a deal, we're willing to work hard to get a deal, to work until the last moment to get a deal, but certainly not at any cost".

"A no-deal Brexit would lead to a collapse of the United Kingdom and a weakening of growth on the continent", he said.

Several media reports said the pair will meet in Liverpool, which has strong connections to Ireland, including freight and ferry services between the two countries which could be severely impacted by a so-called hard Brexit.

"The idea that the Prime Minister will break the law yet again is something that needs to be borne in mind here", he told reporters during a visit to a wind turbine facility in Southampton.

A story emanating from the UK Times newspaper saying that the European Union is willing to offer the UK a time limited Northern Ireland Backstop to break the current Brexit stalemate.

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