Sunday 22 April 2018

Varadkar remains hopeful Brexit deal can be reached as crunch talks continue

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk (right) at a press conference with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) at Government Buildings in Dublin to discuss preparations for the December European Council. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk (right) at a press conference with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) at Government Buildings in Dublin to discuss preparations for the December European Council. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar remains hopeful a deal can be reached to avoid a hard border in Ireland as crunch Brexit talks continue this weekend.

The British government has been tasked to come up with formula of words that on the future of the Border ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker on Monday.

The remaining members of the European Union have weighed in behind Ireland, with Council President Donald Tusk last night pledging in Dublin: "if the UK's offer is unaccepatble for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU."

A government spokesman today said Mr Varadkar "remains hopeful of a deal but at this stage it's very difficult to make a prediction".

Earlier today Mr Varadkar said Ireland has never threatened to use a veto in the Brexit negotiations.

"A veto is something that you use when you’re isolated, when you’re on your own and there’s 26 countries against you... We have 26 countries behind us. We have European solidarity," he said.

He told RTÉ Radio's Marian Finuacane that relations between Ireland and Britain had been at their "closest ever" point before Brexit.

He added: "Brexit is not our policy. This is their policy, it’s a disruption and it is causing problems for us."

However, he said he believes Ireland is "well on our way" to achieving goals set out after the referendum.

That includes the likelihood that there will be a transition period before Britain leaves the EU, that the Common Travel Area will be maintained, and funding for peace initiative will be protected.

He said the other issue is avoiding a hard border.

he said Ireland wants to move on to phase two but "before that we want to be clear about the parameters of those talks...

"That means having a written assurance that there will be an avoidance of a hard border," he said.

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