Belfast Telegraph

Irish Premier says ‘no agreements by any means’ after Boris Johnson meeting

The Prime Minister was clear that the UK would be leaving on 31 October.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) meets Taoiseach Leo Varadakar (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) meets Taoiseach Leo Varadakar (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Irish Premier said he and Boris Johnson had reached “no agreements by any means” after their meeting in New York.

Leo Varadkar said he “got into some more details” with his British counterpart during the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, but stressed nothing concrete had been agreed.

Speaking to reporters after the bilateral meeting, Mr Varadkar said: “It was a good meeting.

“No agreements by any means, but we got into some more details.

“The first time was an opportunity to build relationships, this meeting was a meeting between my team and his, and was a little more detailed.

“We got to speak about some of the details of the backstop and the Withdrawal Agreement and I think it was a good meeting, but there is still a very wide gap between the EU and UK achieving what we need to achieve by October.”

Mr Varadkar added that the two men did not discuss Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision, a matter Mr Varadkar said was “an internal matter for the UK government”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the UN General Assembly today.

“They discussed the Brexit talks and the ideas that the UK has been putting forward, including on the issue of consent.

“The Prime Minister was clear that the UK would be leaving on 31 October and said that he was cautiously optimistic that we would be able to do so through negotiating a deal which is acceptable to both sides.

“The Prime Minister underlined his steadfast commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and said that we will never place infrastructure, checks or controls at the border.

“They agreed on the vital importance of ensuring the peace, prosperity and security of Northern Ireland.

“The leaders agreed to stay in close contact in coming days.”

The meeting is the second encounter between the two men since Mr Johnson visited Dublin earlier this month.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, the Taoiseach said: “We are very keen that there be a deal, that the UK should be able to leave the European Union in an orderly fashion.

“That’s in Ireland’s interest, it’s in Britain’s interest too.

“But there are certain guarantees that we expect to be honoured, that there won’t be a hard border between North and South…. that North-South cooperation will continue as envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement, that what was given to us by the British Government back in December 2017.

Mr Johnson added: “It certainly will.”

The Irish government has been steadfast on its stance over the Irish backstop, which remains a sticking point as the UK attempts to leave the EU, and says it is only open to “workable alternative arrangements” that protect the Irish single market, the open Irish border and current north/south cooperation, of which they say they have seen none yet from British negotiators.

PA

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