Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Brexit deal possible by end of October

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THORNTON MANOR, England – A Brexit deal could be clinched by the end of October to allow the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) in an orderly fashion, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said after what he called a very positive meeting with Boris Johnson.

With just three weeks to go before the United Kingdom (UK) is due to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, it remains unclear on what terms it will leave or indeed whether it will leave at all.

After Brexit descended into a public row between London and Brussels earlier this week, Johnson, the British prime minister, met Varadkar at Thornton Manor in Cheshire on Thursday in a last ditch bid to avert an acrimonious divorce or another delay.

“I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty agreed, to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion and to have that done by the end of October,” Varadkar told Irish reporters.

“But there’s many a slip between cup and lip and lots of things that are not in my control,” he said.

When asked about who made concessions to break the impasse, Varadkar said: “I don’t think this should be seen in the context of who’s making concessions, or who the winners and losers are, I don’t think that’s the game any of us want to play.”

In a joint statement, the two leaders said they “could see a pathway to a possible deal” and that the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier would meet his British counterpart Steve Barclay in Brussels on Friday.

Sterling shot up 1.5 per cent to $1.2387. British ten-year government bond yields recorded their biggest one-day rise in nearly four years.

To get a done deal, Johnson must master the complexities of the Irish border before getting the approval of Europe’s biggest powers and then sell any deal to the British parliament in which he has no majority and which he suspended unlawfully last month.

Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, made no further comment on the meeting with Varadkar. The details of what, if anything, had been agreed were unclear.

Ireland holds the key to any deal. It will have to consent to any solution to the hardest Brexit riddle of all: how to prevent the British province of Northern Ireland becoming a backdoor into the EU’s markets without having border controls.

The EU fears controls on the 500-km (300-mile) Irish border with Northern Ireland would undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended three decades of sectarian and political conflict that killed more than 3 600 people.

Although Johnson has insisted Britain will leave the EU on October 31 even if no agreement is reached, the British parliament has passed a law saying he must request a delay. (Reuters)

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