Varadkar and Johnson to hold crunch meeting in bid to save Brexit talks

Varadkar and Johnson to hold crunch meeting in bid to save Brexit talks

Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson to hold crunch talks as negotiations to avert a no-deal Brexit were hanging in the balance.

The two leaders spoke by telephone for about 40 minutes amid accusations from No 10 that the EU was making it “essentially impossible” for Britain to leave with an agreement.

“Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “They hope to meet in person later this week.”

Earlier there was was fury in Brussels following a series of No 10 briefings claiming German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made clear a deal was now “overwhelmingly unlikely”.

No 10 sources claimed Mrs Merkel had told the UK Prime Minister that Britain could not leave the EU unless it was prepared to leave Northern Ireland behind in a permanent customs union.

European Council president Donald Tusk accused Mr Johnson of engaging in a “stupid blame game” ahead of next week’s crucial EU summit.

“At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people,” he tweeted.

“You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis (where are you going)?”

Labour said the Prime Minister was guilty of a “cynical” attempt to “sabotage” the talks, saying his strategy had always been to pursue a no-deal break.

The hardball tactics from No 10 even alarmed some ministers, after sources warned Britain could break off security co-operation with the EU if it was prevented from leaving on October 31 as Mr Johnson has promised.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith tweeted that “any threat on withdrawing security co-operation with Ireland is unacceptable”.

Earlier today, Simon Coveney hit out at Brexit "misinformation" which has circulated in the last 24 hours.

This story was update at 6.22pm.

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