Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar grimaces during a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Stockholm, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency via AP)

Irish prime minister says big gaps remain in Brexit talks

October 09, 2019 - 12:55 am

LONDON (AP) — Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkhar said that big gaps remain between Britain and the European Union as they try to secure a Brexit deal by next week.

Varadkhar said that Ireland can't accept a deal at any cost as Britain seeks to renegotiate plans to ensure there is no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the U.K. region of Northern Ireland. Both sides are seeking to reach an agreement before an EU summit next week.

"I think it's going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly," Varadkhar told Irish broadcaster RTE late Tuesday. "Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister (Theresa) May's government over two years and have sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying, 'That's a concession'. And, of course, it isn't really."

The comments contradict British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office, which said Tuesday that EU intransigence had led to a breakdown in negotiations.

Johnson has threatened to leave without a negotiated settlement if a deal can't be reached by Oct. 31. The Times of London reported Wednesday that five Cabinet ministers are threatening to resign if it comes to a no-deal Brexit.