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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has played down the potential for a deal to be struck in the coming days Niall Carson/PA
Deal or no deal

'Huge progress' made in Protocol talks but Varadkar plays down prospect of a deal this week

The Taoiseach told reporters that he wanted to avoid commentary that would make a deal harder to reach.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has played down prospects that the European Union and UK Government will strike a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol this week

Speaking at Government Buildings this afternoon, the Taoiseach said that while “huge progress” had been made in the negotiations, he wasn’t in a position to confirm that a deal would be done.

“I can’t say whether or not we’ll have an agreement this week,” Varadkar told reporters.

“I know that a huge amount of progress has been made between the European Commission and the United Kingdom Government in terms of coming to an agreement on the Protocol.”

Varadkar said that space needed to be created to allow for a deal to be done between the UK and EU.

“I know that Prime Minister [Rishi] Sunak wants to consult with his party, wants to consult with the parties in Northern Ireland and I think it’s really important that we allow some time and space for that to happen and avoid any commentary that might make might make it more difficult for this to be agreed.”

As talks between the EU and UK have inched closer towards a deal, the DUP have damped hopes that they would give their support to any agreement reached.

The party has insisted that any deal must satisfy their “seven tests”, which include removing all barriers to trade between Britain and Northern Ireland and removing the border in the Irish Sea.

Sunak is currently under pressure from both the DUP and within his own party, with the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) threatening to rebel if both sides were not satisfied with the deal.

The UK Prime Minister is also facing calls to allow MPs vote on any prospective deal, with The Times reporting that some ministers could be prepared to resign if Sunak’s solution to the protocol risks the place of Northern Ireland within the UK.

However, sources within No 10 Downing Street told the PA News Agency that central to Sunak’s focus was safeguarding Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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