Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is holding a late night meeting with Government ministers tonight in Farmleigh to discuss the Government's Brexit strategy.

With just 25 days to go before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, Mr Varadkar has said that the talks between the UK and the EU on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement are entering a sensitive phase.

Speaking earlier today, the Taoiseach said Ireland was happy to offer clarifications on the backstop, which is designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland, but repeated it could not be time-limited or have a unilateral exit clause.

He was speaking after talks with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in Dublin.

Mr Skvernelis said his country fully supported the position of Ireland in the Brexit negotiations. 

Mr Varadkar said both Ireland and Lithuania wanted the future trade relationship between the EU and the UK to be as close as possible.


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Meanwhile, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is due to meet Britain's negotiating team tomorrow as both sides seek a breakthrough on the backstop.

Mr Barnier "will meet tomorrow afternoon" the UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox and Britain's Brexit minister Stephen Barclay, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a regular news briefing earlier today.

The meeting will take place in Brussels and comes after Mr Barnier said on Saturday that the European Union was ready to give Britain further guarantees to help push a troubled divorce deal through the British parliament.

Mr Barnier also suggested European leaders would be amenable to a short "technical" delay in Britain's departure from the EU, scheduled for 29 March, to give the British parliament time to formally ratify a final divorce deal.

The small overture to Britain has raised hopes that both sides can find a solution to the backstop, which is a major sticking point for many MPs in the House of Commons.

The UK is on course to leave without an agreement if British MPs fail to approve a divorce deal struck by British Prime Minister Theresa May that was overwhelmingly rejected in a first vote in January.

The embattled leader is now seeking changes to the pact that she hopes will be enough to get it through parliament by 12 March.

Mrs May today unveiled a £1.6 billion fund to help to boost economic growth in Brexit-supporting communities.

The money for new jobs and training is mostly directed at northern English areas that backed leaving the European Union and are represented by MPs from the main opposition Labour party.