Second meeting between Varadkar and Johnson raises hope of possible Brexit deal

Second meeting between Varadkar and Johnson raises hope of possible Brexit deal

Confirmation of a second meeting between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Boris Johnson has raised hopes a Brexit deal is possible before the October 31 deadline.

The Government confirmed yesterday that Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson will meet on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

The two leaders spoke by phone and discussions were described as positive. Mr Varadkar said there has been a tempering in the rhetoric in recent days.

“The rhetoric has been tempered and the mood music is good. There is a lot of energy and a lot of positivity,” the Taoiseach said at the National Ploughing Championships, Co Carlow.

However, he cautioned that the gaps between the UK and the EU sides remain very wide and urged “we have no time to lose”.

He was speaking as it was confirmed the UK has sent three ‘non-papers’ to Brussels setting out the Government’s position on customs, manufactured goods, and food and livestock. Brussels said the provisional documents did not amount to a legally operational alternative to the backstop and were a repetition of the positions laid out by David Frost, Mr Johnson’s chief negotiator.

A UK government spokesperson said:

“We will table formal written solutions when we are ready.”

Mr Varadkar was speaking as finance minister Paschal Donohoe hosted his British counterpart, chancellor Sajid David in Dublin, for their third meeting in as many weeks.

Hopes were further raised by the apparent softening in position by DUP leader Arlene Foster during a visit to Dublin on Wednesday.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney sounded a cautious tone in response saying only firm proposals from the British side can allow the process move forward.

Mr Coveney delivered what he called a “dose of reality” about the prospects for a Brexit deal.

Speaking to reporters, he said: “There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about intensive efforts, progress being made, flexibility being shown. Let me just introduce a dose of reality here: there is a significant gap between what the British government has been talking about in terms of their approach and what the EU is able to accept.”

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