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Boris Johnson to fly to Dublin to meet Leo Varadkar in last-ditch bid to salvage Brexit deal before October 31 deadline

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are to meet later this week to discuss Brexit after a phone call between the pair this afternoon.

Reports in the UK have suggested Mr Johnson will travel to Dublin on Thursday or Friday.

It comes amid increasing tension between London and Dublin as the Brexit deadline looms.

An Irish government spokesman confirmed that the pair are to meet later this week.

He said: “The Taoiseach spoke to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson this evening.

“Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal.

“They hope to meet in person later this week.”

He did not confirm that Dublin will be the location for the meeting saying the venue has yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, has warned Mr Johnson that “what’s at stake” over Brexit “is not winning some stupid blame game”.

“At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people,” Mr Tusk said.

Mr Tusk’s tweet came after Downing Street claimed the EU had made a Brexit deal “impossible”.

Downing Street sources claimed German chancellor Angela Merkel had made clear that an agreement was now “overwhelmingly unlikely”.

Following a telephone call with Mr Johnson, she was said to have insisted the Irish must have a veto over Northern Ireland leaving the customs union.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has reacted to Mr Tusk’s remarks saying it’s “hard to disagree”.

He posted on Twitter that it “reflects the frustration across [the] EU and the enormity of what’s at stake for us all.”

Mr Coveney added that the EU remains open to finalising a “fair Brexit deal” but added: “We need a UK government willing to work with [the] EU to get it done.”

Mr Coveney responded directly to the claims made in the briefing to the Spectator insisting that “no country wants a deal more than Ireland.”

He said that Mr Varadkar has repeatedly said that a deal should not be made at any cost and any agreement must include a viable alternative to the backstop to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

He said that Mr Varadkar wants to find a compromise that works but is “not willing to be backed into a corner”.

Mr Coveney suggested that an element of the briefing to the Spectator was a bid to “put pressure on Ireland”.

Earlier today a spokesman for Mr Johnson said Britain has not seen compromise from the European Union so far in Brexit talks, calling on the EU to be flexible to reach an exit deal.

The spokesman said Mr Johnson told his top team of ministers that Britain still wanted a deal and technical talks between British and EU officials were ongoing.

Earlier on Tuesday, the EU accused Britain of playing a “stupid blame game” over Brexit after a Downing Street source said a deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands.

The spokesman said the talks were obviously at a critical point.

“The PM does want a deal, but if we are to achieve that, it is going to require some compromise from the EU, and that is not something that we have seen so far,” the spokesman said, adding that it was not Britain that was talking about blame games.

Yesterday Mr Coveney hit out at those in the UK who he said were trying to “rewrite history” in their misleading claims about Ireland.

Mr Coveney insisted that Ireland’s stance on the backstop was “not about money”.

“If people still think it is they are really not plugged in to the Irish mindset or to the history on this island,” he said.

“This is not about money, sweeteners or being paid-off or anything like that.

“For people to try to shift that debate, to suggest that Ireland is the one being difficult or intransigent or stubborn on this, I think is trying to rewrite history, to be quite frank.

“We are trying to ensure there is no prospect of the imposition of future border infrastructure on this island between north and south because of the corrosive impact on relationships and politics if that would happen.

“It would fundamentally disrupt the all-island economy which, in many ways, has been the reinforcement of peace and normality on this island for the past 21 years,” he added.

Additional reporting PA

READ MORE: ‘This is not about money, sweeteners or being paid-off’ – Simon Coveney warns Brexit hardliners trying to ‘rewrite history’

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