Tuesday 15 October 2019

'Still a very wide gap' between UK and EU on Brexit deal, warns Leo Varadkar after meeting with Boris Johnson in New York

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting in New York
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting in New York
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said there is still a "very wide gap" between the UK and EU in terms of achieving a Brexit deal by the looming Halloween deadline.

His remarks came after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this evening.

Mr Varadkar said they talked in detail about the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop - which Mr Johnson wants to scrap.

READ MORE: 'We have to call an election' says Boris Johnson as he 'strongly disagrees with UK Supreme Court ruling

Mr Varadkar said: "There is still a very wide gap between the EU and the UK in terms of achieving what we need to achieve before October."

Mr Varadkar described the 40-minute meeting as "good" and more detailed than their recent meeting in Dublin.

He said the first meeting was "an opportunity to build relationships".

"This meeting was a meeting between our team and his and was a little bit more detailed."

READ MORE: Suzanne Breen: Humiliation for Boris Johnson but it's the verdict of the people – not the courts – which will decide his fate

Mr Varadkar said one issue that was not the subject of detailed discussion was the UK Supreme Court's ruling that Mr Johnson had acted unlawfully in suspending Parliament.

He said: "I'd be very much of the view that a decision made by the UK Supreme Court is an internal matter for the UK government and not something that we're going to get involved in."

He said it was "a good meeting", but "there is still a very wide gap between Britain and the EU and Ireland".

The pair agreed to meet again "in the near future".

READ MORE: Explainer: What does the Supreme Court ruling on the 'unlawful' suspension of UK parliament mean?

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Varadkar said: "We've been saying, when we met before, that we're very keen that there be a deal and that the UK should be able to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.

"That's in Ireland's interests and Britain's interests too.

"But there are certain guarantees that we expect to be honoured - that there won't be a hard border between North and South, that the all-island economy will be able to operate, and that north-south co-operation would continue as envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement.

"That's a commitment given to us back in December 2017 and we hope it will be honoured." 

READ MORE: 'Consider your position and call an election' - Jeremy Corbyn tells Boris Johnson

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section