Beef on menu instead of backstop as Theresa May dines with Leo Varadkar

Posted On: 
9th February 2019

Theresa May had dinner with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday night - but the possibility of scrapping the Irish backstop was not on the menu.

Theresa May and Leo Varadkar outside Number 10.
PA Images

Mr Varadkar warned the Prime Minister that it was "not a day for negotiations" despite the ongoing deadlock over the controversial insurance policy for maintaining an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Irish government said that the two leaders had discussed "the latest Brexit developments" and "ongoing political impasse in Northern Ireland" over a dinner of fillet of beef, dauphinoise potatoes and green beans.

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But in a sign of the importance of the talks, Mrs May was accompanied by her top Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins as well as her chief of staff, Gavin Barwell. 

The Prime Minister has said she needs legally-binding changes to the backstop in order to get her deal through the House of Commons.

UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was also in Dublin, where he met his Irish counterpart, Seamus Wolfe, for talks earlier in the day.

Speaking in Belfast after meeting Northern Irish political parties on Friday, Mr Varadkar said: "I think everybody wants to avoid no-deal, everybody wants to avoid a hard border and everybody wants to continue to have a very close political and economic relationship between Britain and Ireland no matter want happens."

"There is much more that unites us than divides us and time is running short, and we need to get to an agreement really as soon as possible, and I'll be working very hard and redoubling my efforts, along with government, to do that," he added.