Varadkar-Johnson meeting ‘won’t solve everything’, Tánaiste says

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said a meeting between Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar could be weeks away, adding it “won’t solve everything”.

At an event in Cork, Mr Coveney said unless the British Government changes its approach on Brexit, then we are facing managing a no-deal Brexit, which he said will put great pressure on everybody.

“We are planning and preparing for that. We have spent hundreds of millions of Euros preparing for that scenario that everyone hopes won’t happen. But unless the British Government changes its approach, that is the direction we are heading in,” he said.

On the issue of a meeting between Mr Varadkar and the British Prime Minister, Mr Coveney said there isn’t a date agreed yet, but both the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister have said they want to meet.

“That meeting needs to be scheduled now. A date has not yet been agreed but I am sure it will happen in the next number of weeks. I would expect so, the new Prime Minister and the Taoiseach have a lot to discuss, not just in relation to Brexit but also Northern Ireland and many other bilateral issues.

“But we do not have an agreed date for that yet but I expect that will happen in the not too distant future,” he said.

I don’t expect a meeting between the Taoiseach and the PM will solve everything. The Irish position is very clear, I think the British Government understands that position. The EU position is also very clear, it is the same as the Irish position.

Mr Coveney accepted that US President Donald Trump has backed Brexit but emphasised the complexity of the political process in the United States in terms of future trade deals.

“The US President has made it clear that he supports Brexit. We don’t agree with him on that of course. That is the US Government’s position but there is a system in the US that involves both the White House and Congress and the Senate. It is not as straightforward as people have made out.

“The way in which the US system works is quite different from how our system works. You have the White House and administration around the President and then you have the Congress and the Senate and trade deals need to be approved by Congress,” he said.

Meanwhile, the boss of retailer Next, Simon Wolfson, has said Britain can avoid disorder and chaos in the event of a no-deal Brexit because a step-up in the British government’s contingency planning meant the economy was better prepared.

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