Taoiseach hopeful of Brexit deal by end of week

‘There is still more time,’ Varadkar tells conference

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivers his address on Ireland’s Agri-Food Strategy to 2030 at the Aviva stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivers his address on Ireland’s Agri-Food Strategy to 2030 at the Aviva stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he spoke to UK prime minister Boris Johnson and the European Commission on Wednesday and remained confident a Brexit deal could be got across the line this week.

Speaking at a conference on the future of Irish agriculture at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, he said there was progress but there were many issues that remain to be fully resolved, “particularly around the consent mechanism, and also some issues around customs and VAT”.

He was convinced all parties are serious about getting an agreement this week; “or at least if not this week, by the end of the month”.

Mr Varadkar hoped the issues could be resolved on Wednesday in time to ratify an agreement at European Council on Thursday and allowing the House of Commons to give its verdict on Saturday.

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“But if it’s not, there is still more time. October 31st is still a few weeks away. There is the possibility of an additional summit, if we need that,” he added.

‘Twists and turns’

He said that while there had been many “twists and turns” over the past three years, Ireland’s simple objectives remained the same; avoid a hard North-South border; ensure the all-Ireland economy continues to thrive and prosper, resume North-South co-operation and protect the integrity of the single market - “and our place in it”.

Although time was running short, he remained confident that these objectives could be achieved. Ireland, nonetheless, had to prepare for the worst case scenario, he said.

Whatever form of Brexit emerges, Ireland’s relationship with the UK will be different, he stressed. Mr Varadkar was hopeful there would be no tariffs “but there might be”. He hoped there would be no change in regulations or standards, “but there probably will be”.

As the UK leaves the EU and starts to do trade deals elsewhere, there would be displacement of some Irish products from the UK market. “So we need to face up to all of that, and deal with it, and respond. And I believe we can.”

The one certainty was that Ireland would stay in the EU and have the benefits of a marketplace with 400 million people, he pointed out.

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