Brexit talks entering rocky patch, says Varadkar

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said Brexit negotiations are entering a “rocky patch” over the coming weeks but he believes a deal between the UK and the EU can be reached.

Mr Varadkar said he was determined to keep working to secure an agreement and avoid a cliff-edge scenario next March.

The Taoiseach made the comments following a two-day summit of European leaders in Austria to discuss the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

Theresa May arriving at the EU summit in Salzburg
Theresa May arriving at the EU summit in Salzburg (Kerstin Joensson/AP)

Mr Varadkar held a meeting with Theresa May at the summit in Salzburg where the Prime Minister said the UK would be coming forward with new proposals on the so-called backstop arrangements on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in a bid to break the deadlock.

Speaking from the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co Offaly, Mr Varadkar said: “I think we can have a deal.

“I think we’re entering into a rocky patch over the next couple of weeks but I’m determined to keep working and to secure that deal that we need before the end of the year… ideally in October or November.”

He denied there was any division among the European Union leaders about the matter.

“There is a sense created perhaps in the UK press that there was division around the table among the European Union, among the 27,” Mr Varadkar said.

“There was not.”

Mr Varadkar said the EU was “totally united”, not just behind Ireland but behind protecting the integrity of the single market.

“Perhaps a sense was created that Prime Minister May would come away with something more positive than occurred but I don’t think anyone in the European Union or Ireland is to blame for that.

“Ultimately the problems that are being created by Britain and the British Government are being created as a consequence of Brexit.”

Mr Varadkar added that Mrs May’s Chequers proposal could form a useful “input” into the talks but there were “obvious problems” with it.