Tuesday 16 January 2018

Varadkar to have his first meeting with British PM

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA News
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA News
John Downing

John Downing

Today, just five days after his election as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar travels to London to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The meeting takes place as formal EU-UK Brexit talks finally open in Brussels and fresh efforts begin in Belfast to restore the power-sharing government.

Mrs May is also in the process of trying to complete a support deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to return her embattled Conservative government to power.

This afternoon's talks will be dominated by the interlinked issues of Brexit and Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar spoke by phone to Mrs May on Thursday. During this call, he extended the Government's sympathies on the tower block fire in London.

Officials said that both leaders reiterated the shared objectives of avoiding a hard Border, maintaining the common travel area, and supporting the Good Friday Agreement. They also talked about the political discussions in London and Belfast, agreeing on the need to have the Northern Ireland Executive up and running as quickly as possible, and they discussed Brexit.

Since then, both leaders have met with the Northern Ireland parties to discuss the ongoing talks.

Speaking in advance of his visit to London today, Taoiseach Varadkar said he was looking forward to the meeting in Downing Street at 2pm.

"I want to renew the close bond and strong relations that exist between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

"Among other things, we will discuss is Northern Ireland and the need to re-establish devolved Government, and Brexit, focusing on how we can avoid any adverse impact on the rights and freedoms of our citizens, on trade and the economy," he said.

Irish Independent

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