Cabinet summoned to 'surprise' Brexit meeting tonight

The second cabinet meeting of the day comes ahead of Brexit talks between the British Prime Minister and European Commission president later.

Cabinet summoned to 'surprise' Brexit meeting tonight

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has abandoned his plans to depart for the United States this evening to attend an emergency Cabinet meeting in Dublin.

Some of his senior team had travelled to Dublin Airport to begin checking in but have since returned to Government Buildings.

The u-turn strongly indicates Mr Varadkar and his team being caught off guard by the pace of events today, despite them hosting EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin at the weekend.

Several ministers expressed their “surprise” at the short notice given but said they understood the emergency meeting was Brexit related.

They said they believed the matter at hand is some new deal for approval, which they hoped would secure Mrs May a Commons majority.

Ministers who remained in Dublin expected the meeting would be very short while others who were absent were due to be on the phone.

Meanwhile, British prime minister Theresa May is travelling to Strasbourg for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Her last-minute dash is an attempt to finalise a Brexit deal before Tuesday’s crucial second House of Commons vote on the withdrawal agreement.

It is understood Mrs May and Mr Juncker will hold a press conference together tonight at the conclusion of their meeting.

With three weeks to Brexit Day on March 29th — when Britain is due to leave the EU — any delay would raise renewed questions as to whether there was any way Mrs May could get her deal through the Commons.

She has said that if she loses the vote on Tuesday, there will be further votes on Wednesday on whether the UK should leave with no-deal and on Thursday on whether they should seek an extension to the article 50 withdrawal process.

Downing Street said Brexit talks had been continuing at a "technical level" on Monday afternoon.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Talks have been continuing at technical level throughout the course of the afternoon. That remains the case."

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