Belfast Telegraph

Breakthrough unlikely when Varadkar meets Johnson, Dublin says

Determined: Boris Johnson
Determined: Boris Johnson

By Kevin Doyle

There is little hope that a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will lead to any breakthrough on Brexit, Irish officials believe.

Mr Johnson is expected to travel to Dublin next month although there is no belief on the Irish side that the occasion will be much more than both men setting out their already well established positions.

Mr Johnson yesterday reiterated his determination to leave the EU on October 31 regardless of whether a compromise can be reached.

He still maintains that fresh talks cannot begin unless the EU agrees to scrap the so-called backstop.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to "cancel the referendum and argue about Brexit for years".

"I am committed to leading our country forward and getting Britain out of the EU by October 31."

Yesterday Mr Johnson updated US President Donald Trump on Brexit during a phone call, Downing Street said.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: "They discussed global economic issues and trade, and the Prime Minister updated the President on Brexit."

Earlier, Diane Abbott said a confidence vote in Mr Johnson will be put forward once Labour believes it can win it.

The shadow home secretary said it was "above my pay grade" to confirm whether the Opposition's bid to test MPs' level of support for the Prime Minister would take place immediately after Parliament returns in early September.

But she confirmed talks are taking place with other parties in Parliament after claiming Mr Johnson's "bogus unfunded announcements" on law and order, among others, are costing him support .

Her remarks came after a leading think tank warned that MPs may have little chance of stopping Mr Johnson pushing through a no-deal Brexit when Parliament returns.

The Institute for Government (IFG) said MPs may have limited opportunities to stop a no-deal break and that, even if Mr Johnson loses a confidence vote, he may still try to plough on regardless.

The findings echo the reported view of the Prime Minister's top adviser Dominic Cummings, who is said to have told him that opponents of no-deal had left it too late.

Ms Abbott, asked if Labour is planning to move a vote of no confidence against Mr Johnson's Government in the first week of Parliament's return, said: "It's above my pay grade to say when we'll move the vote of no confidence.

"But who has confidence in Boris Johnson apart from the people around him? The more he announces these bogus unfunded announcements, I think the less confidence there will be in him in the general public."

Told that the motion has to be moved soon to stop Brexit, Ms Abbott replied on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Yes, it does. But one of the things we have to do is consult with other parties - it's no good moving a vote of no confidence if the Lib Dems, for instance, are not going to vote for it."

She added: "We are talking to all of the other parties in Parliament and, if we move for a vote of no confidence, we'll want to do it with confidence that we can win it."

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