Irish PM says 'many issues' unresolved in Brexit talks

PTI
Wednesday, 16 October 2019

"I am convinced that all parties are serious about getting an agreement by the end of this month," Leo Varadkar said in Dublin.

DUBLIN: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Wednesday said he remained hopeful that Britain would secure a deal to leave the EU but sticking points remained as a deadline for talks loomed.

"I am convinced that all parties are serious about getting an agreement by the end of this month," he said in Dublin.

"There is a pathway to a possible deal but there are many issues that still need to be resolved."

Varadkar was speaking as talks about Britain's planned October 31 departure from the European Union went down to the wire in Brussels before leaders of the bloc's member states meet on Thursday and Friday.

The key stumbling block has long been how to manage the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Both sides are keen to avoid the reintroduction of a hard border, which could risk reigniting violence between pro-Irish republicans and UK-supporting unionists after more than 20 years of peace.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, was due to update ambassadors later on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will take the country out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

In London, Brexit minister Steve Barclay was tight-lipped about the talks but confirmed the government would abide by a law requiring it to request an extension if no deal is reached.

The law states that if MPs have not approved a deal by October 19, the prime minister must write to the EU asking for a delay.

"It is important that we leave on October 31," Barclay told a parliamentary select committee, suggesting that if there was a deal, MPs could ratify is quickly.

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