Varadkar warns May that 'time is running out' on border issue

Varadkar warns May that 'time is running out' on border issue

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has issued a warning that 'time is running out' on a Brexit deal and the issue of the Irish border.

Ahead of today's scheduled talks with European Council president Donald Tusk and the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Varadkar said London must produce a coherent plan immediately if it wants to pull Brexit back from the brink of disaster.

He said: “The immediate focus of the Irish Government is on the pressing need for agreement on a Withdrawal Agreement, with an operational and legally-binding backstop.

“The Withdrawal Agreement must ensure that, no matter what the outcome of negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and UK, a hard border on the island of Ireland will be avoided.

“This is critically important to reinforce the stability brought about by the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement.

“The negotiations are entering a critical phase, and time is running out.

“But I believe that an agreement is possible, with the right political will and focus on all sides."

Today's Brussels meetings come as fears continue to grow over a potential crash-out no deal Brexit, which would raise the concern of the return of a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The Taoiseach will also today meet the Chair of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, Guy Verhofstadt.

Yesterday, British prime minister Theresa May rejected the idea of holding a second referendum on Brexit in a speech to the Conservative Party conference.

She said the British proposal is "a free-trade deal that provides for frictionless trade in goods" and that under her plan "The seamless border in Northern Ireland – a bedrock of peace and stability would see no change whatsoever."