Leo Varadkar ‘hopeful of decisive progress’ on Brexit deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he believes there can be “decisive progress” on Brexit in the coming weeks — despite warning “there is still a fair amount of work to be done”.

Mr Varadkar spoke after European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker said the chances of a deal have increased significantly in recent days.

Speaking to reporters during the Fine Gael presidential dinner at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Rd, in Dublin on Saturday , Mr Varadkar said while “we’ll have to see how it goes in the next couple of weeks”, he believes progress can be made.

Asked if a deal can be struck during next week’s October EU summit which would allow a November summit to be scheduled to sign off on any potential plan, he said such a situation is a possibility.

“I’d be hopeful of some decisive progress,” said Mr Varadkar. “But that remains to be seen yet.

It’s increasingly important that we do work out an agreement sooner rather than later. It would not be good for business, jobs, and the economy if we were to run into December.

Mr Varadkar separately confirmed part of the reason for the Government’s ring-fencing of €500m of the €1.1bn extra corporation tax into a rainy day fund is to help Ireland to borrow hundreds of millions of euro from the international market if a hard Brexit occurs.

The Taoiseach was speaking after Mr Juncker said on Saturday he believes a potential Brexit deal has moved closer in recent days, with time running out on securing an agreement.

Describing the coming days as “the moment of truth”, Mr Juncker said while “it is not possible to predict” what will happen “I have reason to believe the potential for rapprochement between the two sides has increased”.

Meanwhile, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon yesterday cleared the way for her party to back a second Brexit referendum.

British prime minister Theresa May remains under pressure to reveal her alternative Northern Ireland backstop legal text before the weekend, a document that is crucial to any agreement being struck.

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