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Brexit waltz moves on as May heads to Brussels for tea and Varadkar hopes Dáil sings from same hymn sheet

Leo Varadkar is hoping for more parliamentary support than his British counterpart.

The Irish and British leaders in Brussels last month.
The Irish and British leaders in Brussels last month.

Updated Nov 21st 2018, 9:31 AM

THE BREXIT CHOREOGRAPHY is set to continue today with UK Prime Minister Theresa May travelling to Brussels and a four-hour Dáil debate and vote being held here in Dublin.

May will today enjoy afternoon tea with the president of the EU commission Jean-Claude Juncker as European governments get their own say on Brexit this week.

Negotiations are set to continue right up to Sunday’s planned deal-signing summit.

Neither side has much wriggle room left to polish the withdrawal treaty or the political declaration on future relations that goes alongside it.

Last week, May won over her Cabinet on a planned Brexit deal which avoids a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (losing some ministers in the process).

Today’s Dáil debate will have little overall impact, given that negotiations are between the EU and Britain, but it will allow Taoiseach Leo Varadkar display a united front internationally in terms of the Irish political backing. 

The debate and vote will also give parties an opportunity to debate the key sticking point in the talks – the Irish backstop.

All eyes will be on exchanges between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael today.

Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers has been accused by Fine Gael of conducting an “ill-conceived campaign” seeking to undermine the government’s approach to the withdrawal agreement.

She accused the government of championing the success of the deal and speaking out too soon.

May’s own internal political tussles are also ongoing, with opponents in her own party vowing yesterday to continue with efforts to unseat her.

Staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said that May should be replaced soon instead of risking having her lead the Conservatives into another general election.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy and © – AFP 2018

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