Gap between UK and EU "very wide", says Leo Varadkar

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has described the gap between Britain and the EU over Brexit as “very wide” today. 

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowing to take Britain out of the EU on October 31st with or without a deal, the EU has been focussing this week on whether the main disagreement over plans guaranteeing the Irish border remains open can be bridged. 

A deal reached last year with Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May would guarantee regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland to help keep goods flowing. But the British parliament rejected it three times. 

Johnson says the border backstop must be replaced to reach any deal. The EU says any replacement must have the same effect, and so far London has offered no proposals that are good enough. 

“We always said we are willing to explore alternative arrangements ... But so far I think it is fair to say that what we are seeing falls very far short of what we need,” Varadkar told Ireland’s RTE radio in an interview. 

Northern Ireland’s largest political party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has stated it would not let the province be forced to accept EU regulations after Brexit. 

The Times newspaper had reported that the DUP had agreed to accept Northern Ireland abiding by some European Union rules after Brexit as part of a deal to replace the Irish backstop. But Democratic Unionist Party Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson rejected the report as “nonsense”

The DUP has been propping up the Conservative government since Theresa May's disastrous decision to call a general election which saw her lose her majority in June 2017.

Johnson’s government has no working majority in parliament at present following expulsions and defections from his party. This means the DUP no longer holds the balance of power. However, its votes could still prove crucial as Johnson tries to convince Brussels that he can secure parliamentary approval for any deal.

Read also: DUP rules out Northern Ireland only Brexit backstop

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