BORIS Johnson today said No Deal would be a “failure of statecraft” after the Irish PM told him a Brexit deal IS possible.
The Prime Minister was given a boost as the two leaders held their first face-to-face meeting since he moved into Downing Street in July.
Mr Varadkar said the PM had a “Herculean” task on his hands but he was “looking forward” to their Brexit talks today.
He said: “If there is a deal, and I think it’s possible, we’ll enter talks on a future relationship agreement between European Union and the UK.”
It comes as…
- Leo Varadkar said Ireland is open to “realistic” alternatives to the backstop
- Boris Johnson said Britain “will never ever” enforce checks at Irish border
- Tonight MPs vote on whether a general election will be held on October 15
The Taoiseach described the task ahead as “very tough” but said Ireland wanted to be Britain’s “friend” and “ally”.
Mr Varadkar also appealed to the PM’s love of Winston Churchill and the classics, with an Irish anecdote about Britain’s great wartime leader after referring to Ireland as the UK’s “Athena”.
Boris said No Deal would be a “failure of statecraft” for both sides and told the Irish PM: “I have one message that I want to land with you today Leo and that is that I want to find a deal.
“I want to get a deal, like you I’ve looked carefully at No Deal and assessed its consequences for our country and yours.
“Yes we could do it [get through No Deal], we could get through it, but that outcome would be a failure of statecraft of which we would all be responsible.”
LETS MAKE A DEAL
Boris’ message to Brussels comes after Amber Rudd claimed No10 was devoting “80-90 per cent” of its time to planning for a No Deal Brexit.
The work and pensions secretary resigned in disgust over Boris’ purging of the 21 Tory rebel MPs that voted against the government in a dramatic Commons showdown last week.
She told the BBC: ” There is a huge amount of planning in getting No Deal. But I have not seen enough planning in actually getting deal.”
The PM’s call for a deal could also jeopardise a potential election pact with the Brexit Party.
Leader Nigel Farage has promised the Tories a 100-strong majority if Boris delivers a “clean break” No Deal.
However, senior chiefs have denied any chance of an alliance with Home Secretary Sajid Javid insisting the party can “stand on our own two feet”.
During today’s occasionally tense press conference, both leaders played down the chances of a “breakthrough”.
The pair have spoken over the phone twice but the backstop remains the main stumbling block in their negotiations.
Mr Varadkar said he would listen to “alternatives” to the backstop but they must be “realistic”.
Boris Johnson told the Taoiseach that whatever the alternative the UK will “never never ever institute checks on the border and I hope our friends at the EU will say the same.”
He added the UK’s “commitment to the peace process is unshakeable.”
MOST READ IN POLITICS
Boris has repeatedly refused to broker a deal with Brussels unless the hated backstop is ditched from any Withdrawal Agreement.
He has warned Dublin and Brussels that Britain will be leaving the bloc “do or die” by October 31.
Last week the PM said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than go begging to EU chiefs for an extension.
What is the Backstop?
- The Irish backstop is essentially a safety net that would prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
- It is one of the most controversial elements of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and has been a constant stumbling block between No10 and Brussels.
- Under May’s deal, the UK would enter a transition period after officially leaving the EU where it would remain a member of the bloc’s economic zones – namely the single market and the customs union.
- This would give the government time to agree the details of our new trading relationship with Brussels.
- The backstop would come into effect if the transition period ended before all the details of the new relationship had been worked out.
- Northern Ireland would then remain a member of the single market until a trade agreement had been reached to keep the border effectively invisible.
- That would mean goods crossing the Irish border would not be subject to checks for customs or product standards.
- The whole of the UK would also remain in a common customs territory with the EU, meaning there would be no “tariffs, quotas, rules of origin or customs processes” applied to UK-EU trade.
- The arrangement would keep the Northern Irish border open, but would mean the UK would temporarily have to go on following the EU’s rules and regulations without having a say in deciding them.
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