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last ditch effort

Leo Varadkar to meet Boris Johnson tomorrow to discuss securing a Brexit deal

Michel Barnier said today that the EU and UK are “not really in a position to be able to find an agreement at this time”.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Oct 2019

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR is to meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tomorrow in the north-west of England. 

It is understood this will be a private meeting to allow both leaders and their teams to have detailed discussions about the process for securing agreement for a Brexit deal.

While the specifics of the meeting are yet to be publicised, it it believed the Varadkar and Johnson will meet in the Liverpool area at lunchtime.

Over the weekend, the Taoiseach had indicated that he was seeking to arrange a meeting with Johnson this week, stating that time was running out for a deal. 

The meeting tomorrow comes as European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the EU and UK are “not really in a position to be able to find an agreement at this time.”

Barnier will meet the UK’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay tomorrow for a working lunch, and he promised that his team would be available 24/7 in the run-up to the  17/18 October summit.

But he made it clear that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposals to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement Brexit cannot serve as a basis for negotiations.

He said Johnson’s plans for cross-border trade on the island of Ireland would undermine peace and weaken the European single market – and is based on untested technology and as yet unwritten legal arrangements.

“There are no real solutions for SMEs in the British proposals,” Barnier told the European Parliament. 

The EU cannot accept the UK’s proposal, as it is today, as it would replace an operational, practical, legal solution with a hypothetical and provisional solution. But if there is goodwill on both sides, a deal with our British partners remains possible.

In a statement before Michel Barnier’s, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said:

I don’t accept this blame game that started in London. Personally, I don’t exclude the deal. We are working on the deal. And we are not accepting this blame game which started in London. We are not to be blamed.

“I must add to my British friends in Westminster that just as the United Kingdom has a Parliament that must give assent to an agreement, so too does the European Union have the European Parliament which will have the final word.”

With reporting by Christina Finn 

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