UK, Ireland leaders see possible pathway to Brexit deal after talks

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-11 02:04:56|Editor: Yurou
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LONDON, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Hopes were raised on Thursday that a Brexit deal may be rescued after a meeting between the British and Irish leaders at a wedding venue near Liverpool.

After three hours of intensive talks, Irish leader Leo Varadkar, speaking at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said it was possible for Britain and the EU to come to a treaty by the Oct. 31 deadline.

"It is possible 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," he told reporters.

But Varadkar cautioned that there were still issues between both sides that need to be resolved.

Brussels has also pressed for Northern Ireland to stay in the EU customs union as well as its single market to avert the need for a hard border between the two parts of the island.

Varadkar, who made a statement before returning to Dublin, gave the strongest hint so far that a deal is within sight.

At the press conference he said: "I had a very good meeting today with the prime minister (Boris Johnson) and our teams together. It was very positive and very promising. I am now absolutely convinced that both Ireland and Britain want there to be an agreement that's in the interests of Ireland and UK and the EU as a whole."

Varadkar said he believed the outline of a Brexit deal would be possible in time for the two-day summit of EU leaders which starts next Thursday.

He added a cautionary note, saying: "There is many a slip between cup and lip and challenges remain ahead."

He said he hoped what happened at the meeting with Johnson will be sufficient to allow negotiations to resume in Brussels.

Varadkar said he and Johnson both agreed not to disclose any new proposals that might have been put on the table, adding that talks would now move to Brussels.

Boris Johnson had made the 350-kilometer journey from 10 Downing Street, while Leo Varadkar flew from Dublin to Liverpool John Lennon Airport for their face-to-face crunch talks at Thornton Manor in Wirral, near Liverpool City Region.

The two politicians spent nearly three hours at the one-time family home of soap magnate William Hesketh Lever, discussing a way of breaking through the impasse that has so far prevented Britain and the European Union agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal.

The meeting came after an intensive war of words earlier this week between London and Brussels indicating that Brexit talks were on the brink of collapse.

A joint statement after the talks said the two prime ministers had a detailed and constructive discussion.

"Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody's interest. They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal," the statement added.

The statement immediately sent the pound shooting higher against the U.S. dollar.

Britain is scheduled to end its membership of the EU on Oct. 31, but a bill passed last month by the House of Commons will require the prime minister to seek an extension of membership if there is no deal reached by Oct. 19.