Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach: I'll try to get a Brexit deal with Johnson in New York

Optimistic: Leo Varadkar
Optimistic: Leo Varadkar

By Aine McMahon

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he will try to get a deal on Brexit when he meets Boris Johnson in New York next week.

"We were in touch today. I'm going to meet him next week in New York and try to get a deal," he said.

The leaders will both be attending the UN Climate Action Summit.

Last week in Dublin, the pair had their first meeting since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister in July. Talks were described as positive but the UK Government has yet to provide what the EU considers credible, alternative proposals to the backstop.

Mr Varadkar held a 45-minute meeting with DUP leader Arlene Foster in Dublin on Wednesday where they discussed Brexit and ongoing efforts to restore the Assembly.

Mrs Foster indicated for the first time on Tuesday that she may be open to a Brexit solution that would involve special arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said that while he was optimistic following the meeting, gaps remained.

Asked about the meeting during a visit yesterday to the National Ploughing Championships in Co Carlow, he said: "If I were to assess the situation, I would say there is a real willingness to find a deal. Nobody wants no-deal to happen and very few people want no-deal to happen. I am certainly not one of them. No one wants to be to blame or to be responsible for no-deal.

"The rhetoric has tempered and the mood music is good. There is a lot of energy and a lot of positivity. The difficulty is that when it comes to the substance of the issue that needs to be resolved, the gaps are still very wide and we have no time to lose."

He cautioned that some British food products may not be available on Irish shelves in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"Some brands, particularly British brands, may not be available but there will be food on the shelves. People don't need to be concerned about that," he said.

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