Irish Premier says ‘no agreements by any means’ after Boris Johnson meeting

The Irish Premier said he and Boris Johnson had reached “no agreements by any means” after their meeting in New York.

Leo Varadkar said he “got into some more details” with his British counterpart during the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, but stressed nothing concrete had been agreed.

At the start of the meeting, Mr Johnson told reporters “we remain cautiously optimistic, but still cautious” about Brexit.

The Taoiseach said: “We are very keen that there be a deal, that the UK should be able to leave the European Union in an orderly fashion.

“That’s in Ireland’s interest, it’s in Britain’s interest too.

“But there are certain guarantees that we expect to be honoured, that there won’t be a hard border between North and South…. that North-South cooperation will continue as envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement, that what was given to us by the British Government back in December 2017.

Mr Johnson added: “It certainly will.”

Speaking to reporters after the bilateral meeting, Mr Varadkar said: “It was a good meeting.

“No agreements by any means, but we got into some more details.”

The meeting is the second encounter between the two men since Mr Johnson visited Dublin earlier this month.

The Irish government has been steadfast on its stance over the Irish backstop, which remains a sticking point as the UK attempts to leave the EU, and says it is only open to “workable alternative arrangements” that protect the Irish single market, the open Irish border and current north/south cooperation, of which they say they have seen none yet from British negotiators.

When asked on Monday about reports that British diplomats had been briefing Ireland would falter on their position on the backstop the closer negotiations came to October 31, the date set for the UK to leave the EU, Mr Varadkar said he did not know if the story was true.

“There is one thing I do know about Brexit from the last two or three years, is that there are some people in Britain, perhaps not in government, but some people who took the view that France and Germany and the bigger countries would gang up on Ireland, and that’s never happened,” he said.

“There are also some people that believe at the last minute that Ireland will somehow fold or give up our position, and that’s not going to happen,” he added.

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