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British prime minister Boris Johnson has accepted an offer to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to discuss Brexit and the Northern Irish backstop, the Sunday Telegraph said citing UK government sources.
“The UK has accepted Varadkar’s offer to meet and dates are being discussed,” a UK source told the Sunday newspaper.
Mr Johnson is due to meet French leader Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and US president Donald Trump in Biarritz in two weeks’ time at a G7 summit.
Sources believe scheduling issues may mean the first bilateral between Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson will be delayed until after the G7 meeting, with a date in early September mooted.
There is speculation Mr Johnson may be planning a snap election in the same month, potentially before any such meeting with the Taoiseach can take place.
Earlier this month, Mr Varadkar invited Mr Johnson to Dublin during an initial phone call between the pair. Mr Johnson did not immediately take up the offer.
The plans for a meeting advanced amid a warning from outgoing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker that a no-deal Brexit would hurt Britain more than the rest of Europe no matter how much Mr Johnson’s government says otherwise.
Britain has been pressing the European Union to amend the terms of Britain’s withdrawal agreement, saying Brussels would have to take responsibility for a no-deal Brexit if it does not compromise.
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Irish businesses are “bewildered” by Leo Varadkar’s decision to “dig in” over the Irish backstop, which has become the biggest in reaching a Brexit deal. The Irish taoiseach is endangering his own country for the sake of EU unity, according to Tory peer Lord Marland.