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Varadkar 'doesn't expect any breakthroughs' in meeting with Johnson on Monday

The two leaders have very different views on Brexit.

8893 Global Ireland 2025_90575043 File photo of Leo Varadkar Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he doesn’t expect any breakthroughs in relation to Brexit during his meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson next week.

The two leaders are due to meet in Dublin on Monday. It will be the first time they’ve met since Johnson succeeded Theresa May in July.

Speaking in Waterford this evening, Varadkar said: “I don’t expect any breakthroughs on Monday.

“It is the first time that we’re meeting as Taoiseach and Prime Minister.

“It’s an opportunity to establish a personal relationship, an opportunity for us to talk about each other’s positions in relation to the European Union and the Withdrawal Agreement, to explore where there might be common ground,” Varadkar told RTÉ News. 

Varadkar said he and Johnson will also discuss the ongoing political impasse in Northern Ireland, which has been without a functioning government since January 2017.

“Separate from the major issue of Brexit, there is the ongoing suspension of the Assembly and the Executive in Northern Ireland. The Tánaiste and I are working very hard with the Secretary of State to get those institutions up and running – we think that can be done,” Varadkar said.

Backstop 

The Taoiseach and the EU have repeatedly said that the backstop element of the Withdrawal Agreement – which would see Northern Ireland stay aligned to the regulations of the single market and the customs union if there is still no other solution that would avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland – cannot be removed from the deal.

Johnson disagrees and wants this and other elements of the deal to be renegotiated. The EU has consistently said the only deal available is the one already on the table.

Varadkar said this evening that there would be plenty of “lead-in time” if checks near the border are introduced in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The House of Lords earlier today approved a bill that would force the UK government to seek a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline if no deal has been agreed with the European Union by 19 October. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Queen Elizabeth on Monday.

On Wednesday night, British MPs voted against holding a general election on 15 October. MPs are due to vote again on Monday in relation to an election; opposition parties have said they will not back the motion. 

Speaking at an event in Yorkshire yesterday, Johnson said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than seek another Brexit extension from the EU. The current deadline is 31 October.

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Órla Ryan

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