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Irish backstop: No meeting scheduled between Johnson, Varadkar

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Fusion Energy Research Centre at the Fulham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, Britain. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters London, United Kingdom Aug 12, 2019, 05.11 PM (IST)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has no meeting scheduled with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar to discuss Brexit, Johnson's spokesman said on Monday.

A report in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said an offer to meet the Irish leader to talk about the so-called Irish backstop had been accepted and dates were being discussed.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted an offer to meet Irish leader Leo Varadkar to discuss Brexit and the Northern Irish backstop, the Sunday Telegraph said citing UK government sources.

"The UK has accepted Varadkar's offer to meet and dates are being discussed," a UK source told the newspaper.

Johnson has told the European Union there is no point in new talks on a withdrawal agreement unless negotiators are willing to drop the Northern Irish backstop agreed by his predecessor Theresa May.

The EU has said it is not prepared to reopen the divorce deal it agreed with May, which includes the backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return to a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

May's agreement, rejected three times by the British parliament, says the United Kingdom will remain in a customs union 'unless and until' alternative arrangements are found to avoid a hard border.

The Telegraph said it was hoped a meeting between Johnson and Varadkar could take place before the G7 summit in France later in August.

The spokesman also said Johnson had been clear he still wanted to get a Brexit deal but hoped the European Union understood the British government's determination to leave the bloc on October 31, "no ifs or buts".

Story highlights

A report in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said an offer to meet the Irish leader to talk about the so-called Irish backstop had been accepted and dates were being discussed.