'Open border is vital' Boris Johnson meets Irish Premier Leo Varadkar

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Irish Premier Leo Varadkar
Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Irish Premier Leo Varadkar
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Irish Premier Leo Varadkar in Dublin this morning.

Shortly after Mr Johnson arrived, Mr Varadkar tweeted: "British Prime Minister @BorisJohnson has arrived at Govt Buildings. We'll be talking #Brexit. The stakes are high. Avoiding the return of a hard border on this island and protecting our place in the single market are the Irish Government's priorities in all circumstances."

"No deal will cause much disruption to Ireland," Mr Varadkar added.

"All issues which we have resolved in the Withdrawal Agreement, agreed by 28 governments.

"Well have to deal with issues like tariffs and state aid, ratified by 28 governments."

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Mr Varadkar added that organising trade deals with the US and other governments would be a "Herculean task".

"We do want to be your friend and ally in doing so," he added.

"I am ready to listen, but what we will not do is replace a legal guarantee with a promise.

"So the stakes are high, avoiding a return to a hard border is the priority of this government.

"We are open to all alternatives legally workable but we have not received such to date.

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Asked about the Irish border, and why he has not returned as PM, Mr Johnson said: "I've seen the old border and how absolutely vital it is we keep the open border, on the plan, it's fairly

obvious, we need to find a way of ensuring that the UK is not kept locked in backstop arrangement while giving Ireland the assurance that it needs," he said.

"Whether it's electronic pre-clearance or concept of the unity of island for agri-foods, and other ideas we'll bring forward to address the full range.

"I don't underestimate the technical problems but I do think there is a way through."

"The Good Friday Agreement is the best example to show that old foes can come together and as co-guarantors of that agreement.

"I look forward to talking to you about how we can restore the institutions in Northern Ireland."

"The 27 will want a shared position and we respect that, but we will talk with our Irish friends how we can help that," Mr Johnson said.

"It is incumbent on us as the UK to talk to Ireland."

Mr Varadkar said that direct rule in Northern Ireland would be: "Contrary to the St Andrews agreement" and "we want to see east-west institutions used to full effect to give us an opportunity to have a consultative role in any big decision in Northern Ireland."