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A Quick Summary About Boris Johnson And Leo Varadkar's Monday Meeting

The prime minister is in Dublin for his first face-to-face meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar since he entered Downing Street in July.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told PM Boris Johnson that, for the Irish Government, having no backstop in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement was the same as having no deal.

Main points:

  • Boris ruled out border checks – something of great concern for the Irish public
  • He also said he wants to restore Stormont (the Northern Irish parliament which has been suspended since January 2017)
  • Leo Varadkar said, quite firmly, that having no backstop is not an option
  • Johnson said that he would rather be found “dead in a ditch” than seek another Brexit extension

Both men met at Government Buildings ahead of their first face-to-face meeting since Johnson became prime minister.

Varadkar said there was no such thing as a clean break and said the story of Brexit will not end when the UK leaves the EU, either at the end of October or at the end of January.

"In the absence of agreed alternative arrangements, no backstop is no deal for us," he said.

He added: "All it does is kick the can down the road for another 14 months; another 14 months of uncertainty for business, another 14 months of uncertainty for people north and south of the border. So that's not an option that we find attractive at all."

The two leaders have very different views on how the deadlock should be resolved.

The Irish government maintains that the backstop - the last resort in avoiding an Irish hard border - is needed in any withdrawal agreement, because of decisions made by the UK.

But Johnson has said he will not sign up to a deal unless the backstop is removed, because it is "anti-democratic".

Johnson has ruled out asking the EU to delay the Brexit deadline of 31 October - but the Irish government said it would support another extension. Presumably, to avoid a no-deal withdrawal. 

Ahead of the meeting, the Taoiseach said he would be asking Boris Johnson how he plans to get a Brexit deal through Parliament when he does not have a majority in the House of Commons.

But Johnson told reporters in Dublin that he was "absolutely undaunted" about what might happen in Parliament in the coming days.

He made clear that he wants a deal to avoid a crash-out scenario, but insisted Britain will leave on October 31.

On Johnson’s comments that he would rather be found “dead in a ditch” than seek an extension, Mr Varadkar said he did not feel the same.

He added: “It’s important we remember that this is not about politicians, it’s about protecting people’s jobs, business and peace and security – and if an extension is required to do that, well I think any politician should be prepared to do that.”

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READ MORE: Explainer: What Is The Brexit Backstop?