Michel Barnier and Leo Varadkar to hold Brexit talks near border

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is due to travel to the border region for a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar next week to discuss the impasse over the North and Britain’s EU exit.

The meeting is planned as the Government yesterday shot down reports of major flaws in a special solution or ‘backstop’ deal to guarantee a frictionless border in the North.

It was reported that EU sources had raised doubts about what Mr Varadkar has called a “cast iron” deal to keep the North in the customs union if there is no Brexit final agreement.

A spokesman for Tánaiste Simon Coveney rejected the reports, telling the Irish Examiner: “The situation is unchanged, the backstop is the backstop. There is the commitment to keep the border unchanged. There is nothing in this [report]. It didn’t come from the EU taskforce or the European Commission.”

Mr Barnier this week warned it was now up to Britain to come up with its vision on the North as well as its future relationship with the EU. London needed to come up with its “red lines”, he warned.

Mr Barnier will meet with Mr Varadkar in Dundalk, Co Louth, next Monday where political, business, and government agencies will also separately meet about Brexit. Mr Barnier will attend the all-island civic dialogue on Brexit.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Brexit department has apologised after its secretary David Davis visited the North and border region this week unannounced. He spent two hours near the border in Northern Ireland on Monday, but the trip triggered criticism from Sinn Féin among others as local politicians or the media were not informed.

Mr Davis is also due to meet with the Tánaiste tomorrow in Dublin.

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