Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is set to warn British prime minister Boris Johnson the time for a last-ditch Brexit deal is “shrinking rapidly” when the two rivals meet in New York amid growing hard border fears.
Government sources said Mr Varadkar will stress the need for London to “step up a gear” in any talks with Brussels during a private meeting at the UN climate change summit in the next 48 hours.
With just over three weeks before the crucial October 17-18 EU summit and little more than a month until the current October 31 Brexit deal deadline, hopes of a breakthrough appeared at the weekend to be fading.
EU sources said at the weekend that while Britain has put forward rough plans, and that there are ongoing suggestions that Stormont’s return could play a role in any deal, they do not go far enough to ending the political and diplomatic stand-off.
Mr Varadkar is expected to tell Mr Johnson at the UN summit a breakthrough must be found soon.
“As October 31 is just a few weeks away, the time available to reach an agreement is shrinking rapidly and engagements from the UK need to step up a gear in order to reach a deal,” a Government source said.
The comments came as European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee tried to downplay fears over European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s admission there will be border checks on goods or animals if there is a no deal Brexit.
Speaking to RTE Radio’s This Week, Ms McEntee said she believes Mr Juncker was simply restating the EU’s long-standing position on what might happen if a deal fails to be struck. However, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin both attacked the Government over the issue, with Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien insisting the public has a right to know the full impact of a no-deal Brexit.
The situation has been complicated by news last night that British sources have been claiming Ireland could face some food or medicine shortages in a worst case scenario, a claim dismissed by Dublin.