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Is Boris Johnson’s trip to Dublin a bear trap for Leo Varadkar and Ireland?

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 09/10/2019 Barry Arnold
Leo Varadkar, Boris Johnson are posing for a picture © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

Boris Johnson’s Dublin visit may prove a bear trap for Leo Varadkar as the British Prime Minister seeks to pass the buck over Northern Ireland.

A Downing Street source has claimed that The Taoiseach has ‘reneged on a secret Brexit promise’ over Northern Ireland, which could be a worrying sign for the Irish government.

Leo Varadkar, Boris Johnson are posing for a picture © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

The source claimed Varadkar had agreed to soften his stance over the North, despite the Irish leader pouring cold water on Johnson’s proposed new exit deal only last week.

The Times reports the compromise — which would see Varadkar soften his position on Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union if Johnson agreed to keep the province in the single market — was discussed at the United Nations meeting in New York last month.

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

It is claimed British officials briefed their Irish counterparts of Johnson’s plans in advance, in the hope that Brussels would agree to the proposals if Dublin got on board.

However, it could all spell bad news for Ireland — being stuck between and rock and a hard place as Johnson makes a last-ditch trip to the Irish capital with his deal hanging by a thread.

Related gallery: Boris Johnson: A career in pictures [GES] 


The two leaders had a 40-minute telephone call on Tuesday after negotiations with Brussels appeared to highlight rapidly worsening relations between Europe and the UK.

‘Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal. They hope to meet in person later this week,’ Downing Street said last night.

But Varadkar has said he did not ‘understand’ how customs checks between the North and South could be avoided under the plan, which could allow Johnson to take advantage of the situation

Related gallery:  A timeline of Brexit [Picture Services] 

The PM’s visit to Dublin could prove a bear trap for Varadkar; if Brexit is delayed yet again then Ireland could be made a scapegoat, with the reports from Downing Street providing a worrying prefix ahead of the leaders’ face-to-face discussion.

Boris Johnson et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

Skeptics may suggest it is a move to appease British voters rather than make any real ground with Ireland or Europe, as some mooted a similar tactic when Johnson’s new deal was published last Wednesday.

Leo Varadkar wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

However the other option on the table is the Taoiseach accepts less favourable terms to get Brexit over the line on October 31, all after Varadkar yesterday said Ireland and the EU would not accept an agreement at ‘any cost’.

What is clear is that Boris Johnson is that he can leave Ireland this week with someone to point the finger at, when explaining why he isn’t ‘dead in a ditch’ after asking for another probable Brexit extension.

Following the talks — which will almost certainly prove unsuccessful –, Johnson may take the high road back to the UK, laying the blame at Ireland’s feet for the latest failure in his Downing Street tenure.

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