Monday 16 September 2019

Hopes of November Brexit deal looking 'less likely with each passing day' - Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipiladuring a news conference at the Prime Minister's official residence Kesaranta in Helsinki, Finland, November 7, 2018. Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto via Reuters

Kevin Doyle in Helsinki

A BREXIT deal before the end of November is becoming increasingly unlikely, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The inability of the UK government to find a united position and the development of a ‘review mechanism’ for the Irish backstop mean negotiations will now go down to the wire.

Mr Varadkar is in Helsinki today for bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä, who said his country is 100pc behind Ireland’s demand for a ‘Brexit backstop’ that will ensure no return to a hard border.

Asked about the confusion over when Theresa May will bring final proposals on a deal, Mr Varadkar said it is “possible” for EU leaders to hold a special summit later this month – but it now seems unlikely.

“I do think with every that day that passes the possibility of having a special summit in November become less likely.

“But we do have one scheduled anyway for the 13th or 14th of December,” he said.

“Not getting it done in November doesn’t mean we can’t get it done in the first two weeks of December. Beyond that you are into the New Year which wouldn’t be a good place.”

Defending his willingness to consider allow a ‘review mechanism’ be established for the backstop, Mr Varadkar said it was a matter of “creative language”.

He insisted the UK would not be able to pull Northern Ireland out of a customs arrangement with the EU unless a better relationship was put in place.

“For me it's always about the objection more so than the mechanism. We're trying to achieve a guarantee that a hard border won't emerge between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The backstop is just part of that,” he said.

Mr Sipilä added: “There is 100pc support from Finland to Ireland. You can count on our support. I have a feeling that all 27 countries are united behind the Irish question.”

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