LONDON — Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar held a “detailed and constructive discussion” on the details of the U.K. government’s latest proposal for a Brexit deal.
The meeting, which took place at lunchtime in the village of Thornton Hough on the Wirral, focused on the “challenges of customs and consent,” according to a statement from No. 10 Downing Street.
Johnson’s proposal envisions setting up a customs border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and a regulatory border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
These would be managed by as yet unclear systems away from the border, all underpinned by consent from the Northern Ireland Assembly. In effect, Northern Ireland would stay in the EU’s single market, but the U.K. as a whole would leave the bloc’s customs union.
Prior to the meeting, Varadkar had said Johnson’s new proposals “fall short in a number of aspects.”
But following Thursday’s meeting, Downing Street said in a statement that both leaders believed that a deal is in everybody’s interest.
“They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal,” a spokesperson said. “They agreed to reflect further on their discussions and that officials would continue to engage intensively on them.”
The U.K.’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will continue talks Friday morning at a meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Varadkar will consult with the European Commission’s Brexit taskforce.