International

Johnson to hold talks with Irish leader to avoid no-deal Brexit

London, Oct 9 (IANS) | Publish Date: 10/9/2019 11:22:20 AM IST

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold talks with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar later this week in a last ditch attempt to avoid a no-deal Brexit, a Downing Street spokesman said here on Tuesday.

Johnson and the Irish prime minister spoke by telephone for about 40 minutes, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal,” the spokesman said. “They hope to meet in person later this week.”

The spokesman made the remarks as President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, said there has been “no progress” following a meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday.

“I came here in the confident hope of hearing proposals which could take negotiations forward,” he said. “However, I must note that there has been no progress” toward agreeing a new deal between Britain and the European Union ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline.

Sassoli told Sky News that Johnson said to him that he “will not ask for an extension.”

Johnson vowed to take his country out of the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a deal.

UK Brexit minister to meet EU negotiator

Britain’s Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will meet EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Thursday, as talks on the country’s exit from the bloc reach a critical stage, Downing Street said.

  “They will discuss the state of play following a week of technical talks,” the spokesman from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said on Wednesday.

Johnson is expected to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar later this week to discuss the Irish border -- the thorniest issue in the talks.

Brussels and London have only a few days left to secure agreement on Britain’s exit terms before a crucial summit of EU leaders on October 17 and 18.

Britain is due to leave the EU on October 31 and Johnson insists he will keep to that deadline.

However, a law passed by rebel MPs would force him to ask to delay Brexit if he has not reached a deal in time -- something he says he will not do.

The government is planning to hold a special Saturday session of parliament on October 19, the day after the EU summit, whether or note there is a deal.

Tempers frayed on both sides of the Channel on Tuesday after a testy phone call between Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Downing Street sources briefed that Merkel’s intransigence meant the talks were close to breaking down, and European Council President Donald Tusk accused Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game”. 

 

-Tags:#Johnson

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