On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be meeting Irish Prime Minister for the final round of Brexit talks, with just days left to strike an EU divorce deal and both sides blaming each other for an impasse.
Johnson will have a discussion with Ireland’s leader Leo Varadkar at an unrevealed location in northwest England after seven days of recriminations over the failure to find a comprise.
Referring to the Irish leader, a spokesperson for Johnson’s Downing Street office said, “The prime minister and the Taoiseach will meet tomorrow at lunchtime in the northwest of England to discuss Brexit.”
“This will be a private meeting to allow both leaders and their teams to have detailed discussions,” it added. As per media reports, both of them will meet in Liverpool, which has a strong bonding with Irelands, including transportation and ferry services between the two countries which could be severely affected by a so-called hard Brexit.
Johnson has promised he will take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, despite MPs passing a law last month that requires him to seek another Brexit delay if he fails to secure a pact at the summit.
On Wednesday, Varadkar told Ireland’s parliament that he would work, “until the last moment” to get a deal, but added: “certainly not at any cost”. After a few days of trading increasingly bitter accusations of inflexibility, Britain and the EU appear to be intensifying diplomacy in a late bid to find a breakthrough.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will meet his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels, with the visit put back 24 hours following Johnson’s quickly arranged meeting with Varadkar.
“We’ve put forward serious proposals and have been willing to be flexible. Now it’s time for the EU to do the same,” Barclay said. On Wednesday, Barnier struck a downbeat tone saying the European Parliament that “we’re not on the point of envisioning and finding a deal”.
Johnson and Varadkar will focus on the controversial Northern Irish border, which has proved the key sticking point in the three years of tortuous Brexit negotiations. Johnson claims his proposals will give a new way to avoid a hard border between British province Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.