Tusk jpg

Varadkar and Johnson to meet next month

Donald Tusk in Dublin earlier this year. RollingNews.ie photo


By Anthony Neeson

As the song line goes: “See you in September.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are to meet next month for high level talks as the clock ticks down on the UK’s departure from the EU on October 31.

During a one hour conversation on Monday the two premiers discussed the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain, pledging that it will not be affected by the ending of freedom of movement after Brexit.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Britain has stated it will end freedom of movement for EU citizens entering the UK after October 31.

The backstop, as anticipated, dominated discussions between Varadkar and Johnson.

An Irish government statement said both men shared “perspectives on the Withdrawal Agreement.

“The Prime Minister indicated that the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form will not get through the House of Commons, that the backstop would need to be removed, and that an alternative solution is required.

“The Taoiseach reiterated the EU 27 position that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened, and emphasized that importance of the legally operable guarantee to ensure no hard border and continued free trade on the island of Ireland.

“The Prime Minister made clear that the Common travel Area, which long predates the UK and Ireland joining the EU, would not be affected by the ending of freedom of movement after Brexit.”

The statement went on to say that both leaders reiterated their desire to see the Northern Ireland political institutions “reinstated urgently.”

“They agreed that their teams would maintain close contact over the coming weeks, while recognizing that negotiations take place between the UK and the EU27 Task Force. They also agreed to meet in Dublin in early September.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Johnson has written to the EU Council President Donald Tusk calling the backstop, which was agreed to by his predecessor Theresa May, as “undemocratic.”

“The backstop locks the UK, potentially indefinitely, into an international treaty which will bind us into a customs union and which applies large areas of single market legislation in Northern Ireland.

“The treaty provides no sovereign means of exiting unilaterally and affords the people of Northern Ireland no influence over the legislation which applies to them,” Johnson said.

Responding to Johnson Donald Tusk tweeted: "The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found.

"Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it."