Theresa May to meet Taoiseach as she looks to get Brexit deal over the line

Theresa May will meet the Taoiseach in Dublin later as part of her whistlestop European tour.

She's seeking assurances from EU leaders to help get her Brexit deal through Parliament.

The British Prime Minister is said to be on the brink of a leadership challenge this morning over her plans.

It's after she delayed the crucial House of Commons vote on her deal.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister met with her German and Dutch counterparts.

Earlier:No-deal Brexit edges closer as Theresa May's bid rejected

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

The spectre of a no-deal Brexit is a step closer after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and EU leaders poured cold water on UK prime minister Theresa May’s last-ditch bid to change the deal and save her political career.

Ms May will meet Mr Varadkar for showdown talks in Dublin this evening with time running out to salvage any kind of compromise she can sell at home to an increasingly rebellious parliament.

The British prime minister is seeking deal concessions needed to win over parliament and fight off a renewed backbench coup before a delayed vote on the agreement which is crucial to preventing a no-deal Brexit.

The leaders of four British political parties have also urged Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to join them in a no-confidence motion.

However, in a whistlestop tour of EU capitals, Ms May was repeatedly told there will be no renegotiation. Mr Varadkar will repeat this position this evening in a meeting in which he will tell the UK it can still “revoke” Article 50 and cancel Brexit itself.

In another day of Brexit drama, Ms May was yesterday told by European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and European parliament president Donald Tusk that no new deal will be allowed.

During meetings in Brussels, Berlin, and other European capitals, Ms May was told that, despite the dire need for a breakthrough, the EU will not return to the negotiating table.

Speaking before meeting with Ms May, Mr Juncker said the existing deal “is the only deal possible” and that “there is no room whatsoever for renegotiation”, while Ms Merkel told Ms May that there is “no way” new talks will take place.

And, while Mr Tusk indicated a middle ground could still be reached, the hardline stance is set to be repeated by Mr Varadkar during the meeting in Dublin, with a Government spokesperson last night ruling out any compromise with the UK on the deal.

Asked about the mounting standoff and the growing risk of a no-deal Brexit unless the UK backs down on its renegotiation demands, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil Ireland wants to help the UK to ensure the deal is passed.

However, warning there can be no “compromising on the basic fundamental substance of the backstop”, he said the only options now on the table for the UK are to back the deal, cancel or delay Brexit, or to crash out with no deal in place.

“It remains in the hands of the United Kingdom to decide that we do not end up in a no-deal scenario,” he said. “There is the option to revoke Article 50 [the legislation which triggers the March 29, 2019, EU-UK divorce date] and the option to extend Article 50.

“It is in their hands, at any point in time, to take the threat of no-deal off the table either by revoking Article 50 or, if that is a step too far, by extending it.”

The hardline position has significantly increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit which could cause havoc to Ireland as Ms May is facing equal levels of pressure from her own party and the DUP to ensure the Brexit backstop is scrapped.

With no breakthrough in sight, Mr Varadkar said the Government needs to “ramp up” contingency plans for a hard Brexit, with Tánaiste Simon Coveney bringing a detailed memo on the crisis plans to cabinet. However, despite the memo outlining a series of supports for at-risk businesses, extra customs officials on borders and at airports, and emergency legislative changes if a no-deal Brexit occurs, the Government has continued to say it is not planning for a hard border.

The standoff comes before tomorrow and Friday’s EU summit in Brussels, and as Ms May returns to Westminster amid the possibility of a fresh Conservative party no-confidence motion push against her premiership.

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