Cabinet to meet over Brexit draft agreement

The Cabinet will meet this morning to consider developments around the draft text of a Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar put his colleagues on standby for this morning's meeting, which is due to be held at 9.30am.

Mr Varadkar and the Tánaiste will update their Government colleagues on what has happened over the last 24 hours.

It follows a meeting last night between Mr Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee.

The four discussed the state of play on the withdrawal agreement with senior Irish government officials.

The message afterwards was clear and cautious.

The Government has stressed that it wants to allow the British government to have time and space to consider the draft agreement.

It said that it would not comment further until the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have briefed the Government and the Dáil.

Thus far all sides in Leinster House have broadly welcomed the reported outline of the draft agreement but said they required more detail before casting a final judgement.

Elsewhere, UK government ministers will meet this afternoon to consider the draft agreement, and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier will brief ambassadors from the 27 member states this morning. 

Speaking on Sky News this morning, DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "It is worrying times, there's no doubt about that.

"What we'll be looking at is the text, hopefully we'll actually get to see the text so that we can make our own judgment on that.

"The Prime Minister is very clear about where we stand on all of this. As you know we've written to her, she's very clear that we cannot be separated from the rest of the UK, either in terms of customs or indeed in terms of regulatory alignment either," she added.

Meanwhile, today's meeting between the Taoiseach and representatives of a number of Northern Ireland's parties in Dublin has been postponed.  

According to a Government spokesperson, the talks have been rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

Brexit developments and the absence of devolved government at Stormont will feature in the discussions.

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