#Brexit – UK and Ireland ‘see a pathway’ to a possible deal

| October 11, 2019

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Following a bilateral meeting between the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a joint statement was issued affirming that both parties could see a pathway to a possible deal, writes Catherine Feore

The discussions were described as detailed and constructive. Both parties agreed that a deal was in everybody’s interest. Little in the way of detail has emerged, only that the discussions were focused on the issues of customs and consent.  

The statement notes that the Taoiseach will consult with the European Commission’s Taskforce 50 (the team of officials dedicated to working on Brexit) and that the Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay would meet with Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator this morning (11 October). 

The response from the EU has been muted. Tusk tweeted this morning that the UK had not yet put forward a realistic proposal.  

Downing Street has been tight-lipped since yesterday, which may allow for negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Partners (DUP). These are probably best conducted outside the full glare, as some of their more hardline supporters have already accused the leadership of capitulation.  

With less than a week to go before the European Council of heads of state and government, it is difficult to imagine that an agreement is possible next week. Each state will have to carefully examine any proposal with its national government before agreeing to it. With no credible proposal available today, it is difficult to see the European Council reaching an agreement next week. Even if a deal were possible, it is questionable if its full details would be ready by Prime Minister Johnson’s promised deadline of 31 October.  

The British parliament would also need time to agree and support a government proposal. That seems unlikely since the British Prime Minister has a minority government and an opposition that wants a general election once a ‘no deal’ Brexit is averted. There is also the question of enabling legislation; any deal – or even ‘no deal’ – will also require the adoption of further laws in the UK on issues like immigration, health care and the UK’s international agreements on agriculture and trade. This is unlikely, with a minority government.  

Following a meeting with President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades this morning in Nicosia, Tusk said that he had received positive signals from the Irish Taoiseach.

European Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva said that the Taoiseach had been in contact with Barnier. She also reported that Barnier had had a ‘constructive’ meeting with the Brexit secretary. The Commission said that Barnier was briefing COREPER (senior European diplomats from each member state – excluding the UK for Article 50 Brexit issues) and would then brief the Brexit Steering Group made up of MEPs from the main groups in the European Parliament (European People’s Party, Renew Europe, Social Democrats, Green and Nordic Green Left). The negotiations have re-entered a ‘tunnel’ period – out of the public glare, in the hope that a compromise agreement can be reached.  

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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, EU, EU, European Commission, European Parliament, UK

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