Boris Johnson to meet Leo Varadkar in Dublin for Brexit talks (2024)

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Ben Haugh, Cate McCurry, David Young

The Times

Boris Johnson to meet Leo Varadkar in Dublin for Brexit talks (2)

Ben Haugh, Cate McCurry, David Young

The Times

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar will hold talks on Brexit and Northern Ireland in Dublin on Monday.

The British prime minister announced the trip during a dramatic day in the House of Commons yesterday in which he lost his working majority and control of Brexit. Phillip Lee crossed the floor and joined the Liberal Democrats as Mr Johnson was addressing MPs for only the second time since entering No 10.

MPs then took control of the Commons agenda by 328 votes to 301, meaning that legislation forcing Mr Johnson to secure a delay to Brexit beyond October 31 is likely to pass today. This would mean he would have to break his “do or die” pledge to leave by then, with or without a deal.

Earlier Mr Johnson, who has announced his intention to suspend parliament later this month, said that he wanted to discuss an all-Ireland approach to agriculture and food products with Mr Varadkar. “We recognise that for reasons of geography and economics agri-food is increasingly managed on a common basis across the island of Ireland. We are ready to find ways forward that recognise this reality provided it clearly enjoys the consent of all parties and institutions with an interest,” he said.

“We will also be discussing this with the EU shortly and I will be discussing it with the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, when I see him in Dublin on Monday.”


Mr Varadkar had invited Mr Johnson to Dublin during a phone call in July. In a statement, the taoiseach said he hoped they could “share further their respective analyses on Brexit and continue discussion of bilateral matters”, including Northern Ireland, the Good Friday agreement and the common travel area.

Fears of a no-deal Brexit have been heightened due to Mr Johnson’s opposition to the backstop, the mechanism for avoiding a hard border in Ireland. He has demanded it be dropped from the withdrawal agreement, but Ireland and the EU have insisted it must remain.

Yesterday Mike Pence, the US vice-president, urged Ireland and the EU to negotiate a Brexit deal that respects the UK’s sovereignty. During a meeting with Leo Varadkar in Dublin, Mr Pence said that the US supported the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

He encouraged Mr Varadkar to negotiate with Mr Johnson in “good faith” and ensure an agreement was reached that minimised disruption to commerce. Mr Varadkar told Mr Pence that the EU had to stand its ground on the withdrawal agreement.

An Irish government source denied that Mr Varadkar had been surprised by Mr Pence’s stance and pointed out that the US administration’s position on Brexit was “well known”. He said that the taoiseach explained that Ireland respected the referendum result but there were “unique issues” that needed to be resolved.


Mr Varadkar said that the majority of people in Northern Ireland supported the backstop.

He also claimed that Mr Pence was “unequivocal” in his support for the Good Friday agreement and recognised that the US was a guarantor of the peace deal. It is understood that Mr Pence also said he was very friendly with George Mitchell, the US senator who chaired the peace talks in Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar also raised the prospect of a trade deal between the US and the EU and Mr Pence suggested it could happened before a trade deal was struck with the UK.

Meanwhile, Brendan Howlin, the Labour leader, said that it was “unacceptable” that so much Brexit decision making was happening in Westminster without proper representation of the Remain majority in Northern Ireland. “Scotland’s government stands firm with its voters and the Welsh government has joined legal challenges to the prorogation of parliament, but the only people speaking for the people of Northern Ireland are the DUP,” he said. “Sinn Féin are prepared to take the money, but will not bring the fight against no-deal Brexit to the arena in which it is being fought. You cannot complain about something that you won’t fight.

“With the numbers likely to be tight in Westminster even after a general election, every seat will matter and should be fought for.”


In his letter resigning from the Conservative Party Dr Lee, a GP who has held his seat since 2010, said that he believed the Liberal Democrats were “best placed” to build the “unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions”. Before Dr Lee’s defection, Mr Johnson had a working majority in the Commons of just one, even with the support of the ten MPs from the DUP.

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Boris Johnson to meet Leo Varadkar in Dublin for Brexit talks (2024)


How did Boris Johnson approach Brexit? ›

In his victory speech, he pledged to “deliver Brexit, unite the country, and defeat Jeremy Corbyn” and then rounded out the dud acronym for his pledge to dude by promising to “energize the country.” On July 24 Johnson officially became prime minister.

What did Boris Johnson say about Ukraine and Brexit? ›

In a speech he said Britons, like Ukrainians, had the instinct "to choose freedom" and cited the 2016 vote to leave the EU as a "recent example". The comments have caused anger among politicians both in the UK and Europe. Donald Tusk, the former president of the European Council, called the comments offensive.

Was Boris Johnson anti-Brexit? ›

He has sometimes been described as Eurosceptic, and advocated for a referendum on European Union membership for some time before the 2016 vote, during which he endorsed Vote Leave. Before and during his premiership, his views on Brexit included endorsing leaving the Single Market and leaving even without a deal.

What does Brexit mean for Ireland? ›

The impact of Brexit on the Irish border and its adjacent polities involves changes in trade, customs, immigration checks, local economies, services, recognition of qualifications, medical cooperation, and other matters, now that it is the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

What did Boris Johnson promise for Brexit? ›

Leaving the European project, he told voters, would allow the UK to take back control of its money, its laws and its borders. While the Vote Leave slogans cut through because they were simple (if often misleading), there were also high-minded constitutional themes, central to the great Johnson-led push for freedom.

Who actually wanted Brexit? ›

A majority of white voters wanted to leave, but only 33% of Asian voters and 27% of black voters chose leave. [...] Leaving the European Union received support from across the political spectrum [...]

Did Boris Johnson say Ukraine should join the EU? ›

Boris Johnson urged Ukraine to join the European Union, which James O'Brien dubs "gross" as the former PM championed Brexit and even linked Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the EU.

Did Putin interfere in Brexit? ›

Russian interference in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum is a debated subject and remains unproven, though multiple sources argue evidence exists demonstrating that the Russian government attempted to influence British public opinion in favour of leaving the European Union.

Why is Britain involved with Ukraine? ›

Since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War, and especially following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, relations have been extremely close as the UK has provided large amounts of military, humanitarian, financial and intelligence aid to Ukraine.

Did the British want Brexit? ›

Although the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave the EU on a narrow majority of only 4%, what was most influential was the staggering leave support from England that had a 7-point majority lead over the remain support.

Which party was against Brexit? ›

Parties in favour of 'remain' included Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru and the Green Party; while the UK Independence Party (UKIP) campaigned in favour of leaving the European Union; and the Conservative Party remained neutral.

Who challenged Brexit? ›

Gina Nadira Miller (née Singh; born 19 April 1965) is a Guyanese-British business owner and activist who initiated the 2016 R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union court case against the British government over its authority to implement Brexit without approval from Parliament.

Why is Ireland not part of the UK? ›

After World War I, violent and constitutional campaigns for autonomy or independence culminated in an election in 1918 returning almost 70% of seats to Sinn Féin, who declared Irish independence from Britain and set up a parliament in Dublin, and declared the independence of Ireland from the United Kingdom.

What happens to Irish citizens after Brexit? ›

Under the CTA, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.

Does Ireland want to leave the EU? ›

Euroscepticism is a minority view in Ireland. Opinion polls held in the country between 2017 and 2024 indicated between 70% and 90% support for continued membership of the European Union (EU), and a 2021 'Eurobarometer' report indicating that 75% of poll respondents had a "positive image of the EU".

Which politician wanted Brexit? ›

Effect on voters

Johnson is believed to have been heavily influential during the campaign, with polling results revealing that the public trusted the words of Boris Johnson on Brexit more than any other politician, including David Cameron.

Who negotiated Brexit for UK? ›

Negotiations formally opened on 19 June 2017, when David Davis, the UK's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, met Michel Barnier, the EU's Chief Negotiator.

Did Brexit help the UK economy? ›

Research by the Centre for European Reform suggests the UK economy is 2.5% smaller than it would have been if Remain had won the referendum. Public finances fell by £26 billion a year. This amounts to £500 million a week and is growing.

When did Boris pass Brexit? ›

Brexit withdrawal agreement
Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community
ContextUK withdrawal from the EU (Brexit)
DraftedNovember 2018 October 2019 (revision)
Signed24 January 2020
Effective1 February 2020
9 more rows

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