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Varadkar says he has 'absolute confidence and trust' in British government

The Taoiseach is at a two-day European Council

Demonstrators gathered to protest against Brexit, outside the Parliament with EU and Union flag yesterday.
Demonstrators gathered to protest against Brexit, outside the Parliament with EU and Union flag yesterday.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has arrived in Brussels at a meeting of the European Council, with Brexit once again dominating the agenda.

Discussions at the two-day summit will focus on the next phase of Brexit negotiations, migration, and closer economic and monetary union.

The Taoiseach is expected to welcome last week’s joint UK-EU report, which ensures that the Common Travel Area will be maintained, the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process will be protected, and there will be no hard border.

In an interview with Sky News, Varadkar said that he has “absolute confidence and trust” in the UK government to turn the tentative agreement into a legally-binding one.

He told the station that there is no timetable agreed for a transitional deal, saying it is “a dynamic situation”.

Weaknesses

The summit comes as UK Prime Minister Theresa May reels from a parliamentary defeat over Brexit that threatens to undermine her just as EU leaders back the opening of trade talks.

Yesterday, May’s own lawmakers rebelled to demand that parliament have the final say on any Brexit agreement before Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019.

The fresh blow to May’s authority will renew fears in Brussels about her ability to push through a deal and avoid a disorderly Brexit — something EU President Donald Tusk said this week would involve a “furious race against time” to avoid.

Leaders are expected to give the green light for a second phase of talks covering a post-Brexit transition phase, and future relations between Britain and the EU, including a possible trade deal.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker recommended the move after all-night talks with May last week, saying Britain had made “sufficient progress” on its divorce bill, the fate of the Irish border, and protections for European expats living in Britain.

Additional reporting from AFP

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