Irish PM Leo Varadkar warns Theresa May Brexit deal could still be weeks away

Posted On: 
9th November 2018

Leo Varadkar has warned Theresa May that a Brexit deal could still be a fortnight away.

Leo Varadkar says Brexit negotiations are at a 'sensitive' stage.
PA Images

The Irish Taoiseach said the talks were at a "sensitive point" and that "a successful outcome is not guaranteed".

His comments will come as a disappointment to the Prime Minister, who is hoping to finally reach agreement with Brussels over the next few days ahead of a crunch Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

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Mrs May has said the deal is "95%" done, but both sides remain at odds over how to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

In a further blow for the Prime Minister, the DUP - who she relies on to prop up her minority government - have accused her of preparing to sell out by agreeing a deal which maintains the option of putting a customs border in the Irish Sea.

Speaking at a press conference in the Isle of Man following talks with, among others, de facto deputy Prime Minister David Lidington, Mr Varadkar poured cold water on Number 10's hopes that a breakthrough is imminent.

He said: "We are at a sensitive point in the negotiations. A successful outcome is not guaranteed, but I think it is possible that in the next couple of weeks and probably with that in mind the less said the better."

The DUP sought to pile further pressure on Mrs May today by insisting they will not vote for any deal which treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.

They made their concerns known after the Prime Minister wrote to DUP leader Arlene Foster to update her on the negotiations.

Sammy Wilson, the party's Brexit spokesman, told Sky News: "If she continues down the road of bringing something forward which is unacceptable to a large part of her own party and ourselves, then I think the inevitable consequence is that it will be voted down in the House of Commons."

A Downing Street spokeperson said: "The Prime Minister’s letter sets out her commitment, which she has been absolutely clear about on any number of occasions, to never accepting any circumstances in which the UK is divided into two customs territories. The Government will not agree anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland.”