UK, Irish leaders see ‘pathway’ to elusive Brexit deal

News
Boris Johnson

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves to the media from the doorstep of 10 Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, ahead of meeting mental health campaigners. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — The leaders of Britain and Ireland said Thursday they had spotted a “pathway” to an elusive Brexit deal, keeping hopes of a breakthrough alive just three weeks before the U.K.’s deadline to leave the European Union.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish leader Leo Varadkar provided a status update on the issue after a private lunch meeting in northwest England that lasted for several hours.

“Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest,” they said in a joint statement. “They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal.”

Britain is due to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31, and attempts to find a deal have foundered over plans for the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.

The currently all-but-invisible border underpins both the regional economy and Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Under a U.K. proposal, there would have to be customs checks on some goods, though not on the border itself. The EU says any customs checks are unacceptable.

There was little of substance in Varadkar and Johnson’s statement indicating a breakthrough or whether the “pathway” was near or far off.

The two agreed to “reflect” further on their discussions, which concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent.They also agreed to keep talking.

After the meeting, Varadkar sounded more positive than he has in recent weeks.

“I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty to allow the U.K. to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, and to have that done by the end of October,” he said. But he warned things could still go wrong, and added: “In terms of how long it will take, I can’t predict that with any certainty.”

In recent days, Britain and the EU have traded bad-tempered barbs about who is responsible for the deadlock in talks.

After Johnson’s Downing Street office claimed EU intransigence had made it “essentially impossible” for the U.K. to leave with a deal, European Commission President Donald Tusk warned against playing a “stupid blame game.”

Varadkar and other EU leaders say Johnson, who took office in July, has repudiated the withdrawal agreement made with the bloc by his predecessor, Theresa May. That deal was rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament, largely because of lawmakers’ opposition to provisions to ensure an open Irish border.

Johnson insists the U.K. will leave the U.K. on Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal.

However, many members of Britain’s Parliament are determined to prevent a no-deal Brexit, which economists say would plunge the U.K. economy into recession. Last month, they passed a law requiring the government to ask the EU for a delay if no divorce deal has been agreed by Oct. 19 — the day after a key summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

Johnson says he won’t delay Brexit past Oct. 31 — but also will obey the law. It’s unclear how the two statements can be reconciled.

Parliament is expected to hold a rare Saturday sitting on Oct. 19 as lawmakers grapple with what to do next.

___

Danica Kirka in London contributed.

___

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Trending Stories

Turkey Day Giveaway

Days

Hours

Minutes

Seconds

Recent Videos

41st annual Chamber of Horrors

Thumbnail for the video titled "41st annual Chamber of Horrors"

Dogs test speed in Agility Trial

Thumbnail for the video titled "Dogs test speed in Agility Trial"

Graham ISD receives much-needed help from GRMC

Thumbnail for the video titled "Graham ISD receives much-needed help from GRMC"

Burkburnett woman sentenced for child abandonment and endangerment

Thumbnail for the video titled "Burkburnett woman sentenced for child abandonment and endangerment"

WF man sentenced for theft of union funds

Thumbnail for the video titled "WF man sentenced for theft of union funds"

Local father who lost son to fatal car accident uses tragedy to educate others

Thumbnail for the video titled "Local father who lost son to fatal car accident uses tragedy to educate others"

Kamay Volunteer Fire Department hosts steak feed

Thumbnail for the video titled "Kamay Volunteer Fire Department hosts steak feed"

Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome awareness

Thumbnail for the video titled "Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome awareness"

Mom builds Halloween display for terminally ill son

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mom builds Halloween display for terminally ill son"

Duncan School Threat

Thumbnail for the video titled "Duncan School Threat"

Sikes Senter Mall robbery

Thumbnail for the video titled "Sikes Senter Mall robbery"

Horses help inmates struggling with anger and anxiety

Thumbnail for the video titled "Horses help inmates struggling with anger and anxiety"
Get FREE Text Alerts
Report It

Latest News

More Local News