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Taoiseach believes Brexit deal is possible before October 31st deadline

Taoiseach believes Brexit deal is possible before October 31st deadline

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar believes it is possible to get a deal done on Brexit before the deadline of October 31st.

Mr Varadkar was speaking at Liverpool Airport after meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in private yesterday.

He told reporters: “I’m sure you appreciate that this is a very sensitive issue and we’re at a very sensitive stage at the moment, so I won’t be able to go into too much detail.

“I think sometimes at this stage in negotiations and discussions, the less said the better, but what I can say is that I had a very good meeting today with the Prime Minister and our teams.

“It was very positive and very promising. I am now absolutely convinced that both Ireland and Britain want there to be an agreement that’s in the interests of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the European Union as a whole, and I do see a pathway towards an agreement in the coming weeks.”

Mr Varadkar said that despite the progress there were still issues “yet to be fully resolved”, including ensuring that any long-term arrangement applying to Northern Ireland had the consent of the people there.

He said the second issue was to ensure “that there is no customs border between north and south”.

“We also had a good discussion looking forward to how relationships might look after Brexit, how we can strengthen cooperation north and south, economically and politically,” Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Varadkar said that the next step was for the Britain to engage with the European Commission, which is likely to happen tomorrow when the British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay meets with Michel Barnier.

The Taoiseach added that Ireland will also need to “consult and engage” with the Commission.

Mr Vardakar said: “I think all sides would like there to be an agreement next week at the council if possible, and obviously there’s a further deadline after that, the 31st of October, so I would say a short pathway rather than a long one.”

He added: “What this is about is securing an agreement that works for the people of Ireland and also the people of Britain and Europe. If it works for the people of Ireland, what it means is, avoiding a hard border between north and south.

“That’s always been our primary objective, ensuring that the all-island economy can continue to develop, and that north-south cooperation, envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement, can resume. Those are our objectives, this has always been about achieving those objectives, and I think today they can be achieved.”

In a joint statement, both leaders said the summit had been detailed and constructive.

According to the statement, the discussions concentrated on the “challenges of customs and consent”.

They also discussed the potential to strengthen bilateral relations, including on Northern Ireland.

As a follow up to these negotiations, the Taoiseach is to consult the EU Taskforce 50, while the UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is to meet with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow morning.