Micheál Martin said his “gut feeling” is that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a deal because he “understands the logic of it”.
Speaking at a virtual MacGill Summer School meeting, Martin said, “The momentum is toward a deal, toward an agreement.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but I think common sense should prevail everywhere.
“Given the enormous impact of Covid-19 on our societies, it would be very irresponsible for political leaders to experience a second shock for the people.”
The Taoiseach also insisted that “there will be no sealing of the border and, as a result, there will be no border on the island of Ireland”.
Mr Martin said that while the UK government is “more volatile” than in previous epochs, “I think the will is there”.
He said he “spoke” to Mr Johnson about the Single Market Act, which has received a more negative reaction from the British people than the Prime Minister expected.
Mr Martin said he believed the UK government had the political will to have a constructive relationship with the EU after Brexit.
“I think we can get a deal. I think the fact that the EU and the UK government are now having intense discussions is positive, ”he said.
“But it will be very challenging.”
Mr. Martin added, “Given the impact Covid-19 has had on our respective economies, logic and common sense suggest that people must do whatever it takes to avoid a second shock to our respective economies and to reach a deal . ”
Analysis: caution and hope when the talks enter the crucial phase
Talks between the UK and the EU on a post-Brexit trade deal will continue over the weekend.
Negotiations resumed Thursday after Mr Johnson last week called for a temporary halt and accused Brussels of refusing to compromise on the remaining differences.
Downing Street said the two sides, led by the EU’s Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost, are now in “intense talks” that will last until Sunday.
However, time is running out if an agreement is to be reached before the current Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.
Both the UK and the EU had previously announced that they would have to conclude an agreement by mid-October if it is to be implemented on time.
Mr Johnson has said that if there is no agreement, the UK will trade with the bloc on “Australian terms,” which is an acronym for World Trade Organization rules.
However, the prospect of tariffs and quotas in place has alarmed many UK businesses that have already been hit by the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
The main obstacles to an agreement remain the fishing rights, so-called “a level playing field” to ensure fair competition and the governance arrangements for an agreement.
Additional reporting PA
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