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Donald tusk meets Leo Varadkar in Dublin for Brexit talks

European Council President Donald Tusk (fourth left) and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (third right) at Government Buildings in Dublin, for talks ahead of the European Council summit later in the week. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 19, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Brexit Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

The Irish premier is holding Brexit talks with European Council president Donald Tusk in Dublin.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed Mr Tusk on Tuesday morning in front of media, but neither of the men made any reply when questioned by journalists.

When asked if Monday's Westminster news posed a problem, Mr Tusk did not reply but shrugged.

The Dublin meeting is to consider any requests from the UK to delay Brexit, and other issues on the EU agenda, ahead of the European Council meeting in Brussels later this week.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, during his annual US St Patrick's Day tour, Mr Varadkar said: "President Tusk will come to Dublin on Tuesday for meetings with me, in advance of the European Council summit later in the week, to consider any requests that come from the UK at that point for an extension.

"On Wednesday at our Cabinet meeting we will be in position to sign off on a package of supports for businesses, for farmers, for the agri-food sector and for anyone who may be adversely affected by a no-deal Brexit.

"Obviously we are hoping the deal will be ratified in the House of Commons before then, but if it's not we are ready. We've already passed the legislation to provide for a no-deal Brexit, we have the Common Travel Area and this package of measures to support incomes and jobs.

"It's not going to be a case of everything being all right, Brexit is bad news."

Mr Varadkar also said he hoped his discussions with Mr Tusk could help avoid a "rolling extension".

He added: "I will have a chance to speak to him in more detail at that point and I would hope that things over the next couple of days may become a bit clearer in terms of what Westminster wants and what the British Government wants.

"I've always said that what I would like to avoid is a rolling extension, where there is an extension every few months, that would just add to uncertainty and wouldn't solve the problem.

"There seems to be two emerging possibilities - one would be the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by Westminster followed by a short extension into the summer which would allow them time to pass the necessary legislation or potentially a much longer extension of up to two years and the purpose of that would be to allow other options to be considered, for example participation in Customs Union."

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow provoked uproar at Westminster on Monday when he ruled that the Government could not bring the Prime Minister's deal back for a third "meaningful vote" unless there were substantial changes.

The Speaker's ruling was welcomed by some Tory Brexiteers opposed to Theresa May's deal, who argued that it increased the chances of a no-deal break.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has indicated ministers will continue to press on with Mrs May's Brexit deal despite Mr Bercow's ruling.

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