'Serious divergences' remain in Brexit talks over N. Ireland

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

"The withdrawal agreement must include a legally binding backstop so that there can not be a hard border on the island of Ireland in the future", Varadkar said., adding "a backstop cannot have an expiry date".

"I am strongly against any temptation to try and isolate Ireland and not to conclude a deal on Ireland".

Lord Adonis, who supports the Best for Britain anti-Brexit campaign, said: "Every day that the Prime Minister spends arguing with her own Cabinet and manoeuvring to rewrite the British constitution is a wasted day when it comes to our negotiations with our European Union partners".

Coming a week ahead of a crunch European Council meeting of leaders in Brussels, the visit is a clear demonstration of the EU's solidarity with Ireland's position.

"Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill emphasised to Theresa May the need for a City Deal for Derry as part of the inclusive growth strategy for the wider north west".

He was backed up by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said: "Ireland is not alone".

The President of the European Commission will address a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad this morning.

On Friday the Commission President will meet Irish President Michael D Higgins and visit the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Croke Park, and the GAA museum.

In a joint statement, the Scottish and Welsh leaders said quitting was not in the national interest and urged Mrs May to secure a Norway-style solution in the European Union exit talks.

He's being joined by the EU's Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

The call comes ahead of a meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) in Guernsey on Friday, which will bring the leaders together with Mrs May's deputy, David Lidington, and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

"A withdrawal agreement without a backstop is of no use whatsoever", he said.

But the shape of that fall-back remains a sticking point, with the European Union rejecting a United Kingdom contention that it should only be temporary, even if a broader agreement fails to materialise.

Ahead of an European Union summit next week, Varadkar highlighted British Prime Minister Theresa May's promise to transcribe the so-called backstop solution on Ireland into legal text.

The Government says it wants agreement on all the withdrawal issues by the time of the October EU summit, however there are severe doubts that that can be achieved.

Responding to Mr Juncker's remarks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he has secured a place in history amid the Brexit "riddle".

"In our meeting we were in full agreement that there is now an urgent need to intensify our efforts if we are to get there".

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