Belfast Telegraph

Republic 'open to credible extension plan' as Barnier set to travel to Dublin ahead of emergency summit

Mr Varadkar (left) and Michel Barnier (Niall Carson/PA)
Mr Varadkar (left) and Michel Barnier (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michelle Devane

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will visit Dublin on Monday for talks with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

It is seen as a sign of solidarity for Ireland ahead of an emergency EU summit in Brussels next week.

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk requesting a Brexit delay, with an option to leave earlier if she can get a leave deal through Parliament.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed yesterday that Mr Barnier and his team would travel to the Irish capital.

"The aim is to take stock of developments in London as well as the ongoing planning for a possible no-deal scenario," the spokesman said.

Mr Barnier will also meet with Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney and Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe.

The visit comes within days of Mr Varadkar holding bilateral meetings with French and German leaders.

Mr Coveney said it was not surprising that Mr Barnier would visit Dublin before the summit.

"What he will want to do first of all is show solidarity with Ireland," Mr Coveney told RTE News.

"But also I think he'll want a detailed conversation in terms of Ireland's perspective on the most recent ask from the Prime Minister for an extension of time."

He added: "Ireland is of course willing to give the process more time, but we like many other EU member states will want to see a plan to go with that to show that there is a proposed way of finding a majority support in Westminster for a way forward."

Asked about the Republic's position on Mrs May's June 30 request versus a possible flexible one-year extension, Mr Coveney said: "We're open to either in truth."

"As long as there is a credible plan in order to get a deal across the line, then I think European leaders will look at an extension positively," he added.

"But they will need to see a credible plan to go with the ask."

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