Varadkar warns Johnson: Brexit deal by next week ‘very difficult’

Negotiating a new Brexit agreement by the crucial EU summit will be “very difficult”, Leo Varadkar has warned Boris Johnson ahead of their crunch talks to avert a no-deal exit.

The Prime Minister’s chances of a breakthrough with Brussels were looking increasingly unlikely on Tuesday after accusations from Number 10 that the bloc was making it “essentially impossible” for Britain to leave with a deal.

Mr Johnson will hope to gain concessions from his Irish counterpart Mr Varadkar during in-person talks anticipated later this week.

But with the October 31 deadline rapidly closing in, the Taoiseach warned of the challenges of securing a new deal by next week – a key period in the Brexit saga with the summit in Brussels.

Mr Varadkar said Ireland and the EU would not accept an agreement at “any cost”.

“There are some fundamental objectives that haven’t changed for the past three years and we need them guaranteed,” he told RTE news.

“I think it is going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly.

“Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister (Theresa) May’s government over two years and sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying, ‘That’s a concession’. And of course it isn’t really.”

Countdown to leaving the EU
(PA Graphics)

The PM had spoken to his Irish counterpart by telephone for about 40 minutes earlier in the day.

Mr Johnson needs a deal sorted by the end of October 17/18 if he is to avoid a dilemma over the Benn Act, which compels him to ask Brussels for an extension if he cannot get an agreement past MPs when he returns, a move he has ruled out taking.

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