Leo Varadkar ‘more optimistic’ Brexit deadline will be met

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is “more optimistic” about the October Brexit deadline being met but that a backstop as an “insurance policy” must be written into a final deal.

He was speaking after British prime minister Theresa May’s new plan was revealed.

The plan includes partial access to the single market and a combined customs territory, and is being considered a ‘soft’ Brexit.

The EU and Ireland have held off on giving their full opinion on the plan until Britain’s white paper on Brexit and its future relationship with the union is published later this week.

Speaking after a meeting with Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz last night at Dublin Castle, both said they were open to proposals to avoid a hard border in the North.

There was also a discussion about an informal EU summit in Salzburg, Austria, where Brexit may be discussed in September, ahead of the October deadline. Austria now holds the EU presidency.

Mr Varadkar, though, did say there were still “open questions” around the single market in the new Brexit plan.

The backstop was needed as an “insurance policy”, he said, in order to avoid a hard border.

He also said he would not like to “over-egg” the proposals.

Mr Varadkar said Ireland had emergency plans in the case of a no-deal and a partial deal with a backstop, more of which would be revealed to the public before the end of the month.

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