It’s only a seven sentence statement, but it appears to bode well for a Brexit deal.
The two leaders had a “detailed and constructive discussion.” This is positive, but it should be noted this was a discussion, rather than negotiation, which is the preserve of EU Brexit Taskforce chief Michel Barnier, not Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
A deal is in “everybody’s interest.” That’s a re-statement of fact, but important.
The two leaders agreed they could see “a pathway to a possible deal.” This is a much better outcome than expected, but “possible” is the key word: nothing is guaranteed.
The talks focused on the problems of “customs and consent.” They are agreed on where the problem lies.
Varadkar and Johnson discussed the “potential to strengthen bilateral relations, including on Northern Ireland.” This is essential if any deal is to be done – both London and Dublin will need to use their influence to secure buy-in.
They agreed to “reflect further”, but officials would “engage intensively.” So diplomats will try to put flesh on the bones of this possible deal, with oversight from the leaders.
The Taoiseach will “consult with the EU Task Force”, something he would be obliged to do, and want to do, given Barnier is the chief negotiator. The UK Brexit Secretary will “meet Michel Barnier tomorrow morning”.
So if that’s the sequencing of events, all eyes will be on Michel Barnier to see what he might have to say about the idea and also the DUP’s Arlene Foster who, up to this point at least, has huge sway over the UK position on Brexit.
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