Insufficient progress on Brexit talks so far, Leo Varadkar says

Taoiseach met Theresa May in Downing Street and said ruling out of hard border ‘very important’

Brexit was the hot topic as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with British prime minister Theresa May at Downing Street, London. Video: Reuters

 

Brexit divorce talks have so far made insufficient progress to allow starting negotiations on a post-withdrawal trade deal, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said after meeting British prime minister Theresa May in Downing Street.

But Mr Varadkar stressed that there was still time for the situation to be resolved before the 27 remaining EU members make a decision on the matter in October.

He said: “I don’t think, at this stage, it would be possible to say that sufficient progress has yet been made, but it may well be possible by the end of October when we meet in Brussels. ”

Mr Varadkar said that the decision would be shaped by the views of chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

“Certainly, we will be very much guided by the report that Michel Barnier will make to the prime ministers and also the report that the European Parliament will make.”

Mr Varadkar also urged the British government to be “more specific” about the future relationship between the UK and Ireland after Brexit.

Following a working lunch in No 10, Mr Varadkar said the prime minister’s decision to rule out a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland was “very important”.

Mr Varadkar, who is the first EU leader to visit the prime minister since her keynote address in Florence last week in which she set out her hopes for a post-Brexit relationship with Brussels, also urged the DUP and Sinn Fein to find a solution to the deadlock over powersharing.

“I have always encouraged the British Government to be more specific about how they see the future relationship between Britain and Ireland and between the United Kingdom and the European Union, ” he said.

PA