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Leah Farrell

Taoiseach expected to meet with Boris Johnson next week

Varadkar said the ‘time is tight” for a Brexit deal to be struck.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR is seeking to meet with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson next week.

Speaking at a Fine Gael fundraiser in Dublin tonight, he said “time is tight” for a Brexit deal to be struck ahead of a European Council summit on 17 and 18 October.

He said he believes a deal can be reached and refused to set out when Johnson should submit any final proposals to the EU, but said that next Friday was “reasonable”.

“We are in the process of trying to arrange a meeting with prime minister Johnson next week,” he added. 

“Time is tight. We have a European summit on the 17th of October and it’s not reasonable to expect 27 or 28 heads of Government to sign off on something that they only see the night before or a few days before,” he said, adding:

“There are a lot of countries, for example, including our own where there’s a degree of parliamentary scrutiny. So timelines are tight.”

While he said Friday was reasonable, he said the deadlines aren’t going to be absolutely rigid.

“It is always possible to find an extra 24 hours or an extra 48 hours but it’s not the case that you can negotiate an international treaty at a council meeting in Brussels.”

He said it is legal document that 28 heads of States can’t make amendments to and discuss at 3am in the morning at a council meeting.

Asked whether he thinks a deal can be done, he said:

“It’s possible at the European Council summit in two weeks time, but the current position as of today is the European Union, including Ireland, doesn’t feel that the proposals put forward by Prime Minister Johnson yet form the basis for deeper negotiations.”

He said the Irish government had concerns about the issue of consent and democracy in the North, as well as a serious problem with custom checks.

“That is the hard border we have been trying to avoid all along,” he said.


The Taoiseach was also asked about next week’s Budget.

He said tax cuts had been delivered in the last three years, but on Tuesday he has to “what’s right for the country” in light of Brexit.

“This budget is different. It’s a no deal budget so it has to be more conservative than previous budgets and what that means is no across the board income tax cuts and no across the board welfare increases,” he said.

“But there will be room for a package of modest ones targeted on the poorest and those most in need and there will be a tax package, albeit a minimal one, correcting some anomalies and unfairnesses that need to be corrected.”

He said the exact figure of the Brexit packages still has to be settled on, but added that that it will involve a “financial package to save jobs and businesses that are viable in the long term but may be vulnerable as a consequence of Brexit”.

“So as you can imagine, the area’s most affected will be the ones most protected.

“That’s agriculture and the food industry, fisheries, also exporters’ to the UK and the tourism industry as well and we’ll have to as well have a focus on the border region, which could be very much affected too.”

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