Monday 23 July 2018

Call for Brexit talks to focus first on trade is 'sensible' - Varadkar

Mr Davis said a positive outcome on trade would increase the prospect of a deal being struck on the Irish Border. Photo: PA
Mr Davis said a positive outcome on trade would increase the prospect of a deal being struck on the Irish Border. Photo: PA
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described claims by the British government that a Brexit trade deal would help progress on the future of the Irish Border as "common sense".

But he warned that negotiations between the EU and UK over Brexit can only proceed to the next stage if sufficient progress is made before October.

The Taoiseach was reacting to the latest pronouncements from London about the ongoing divorce talks.

In an article yesterday, the UK's Brexit Minister David Davis warned the EU that "with the clock ticking", the immediate focus should be on thrashing out a new trade deal.

Mr Davis said a positive outcome on trade would increase the prospect of a deal being struck on the Irish Border.

Responding to the remarks in Montreal, Canada, Mr Varadkar said he agreed with Mr Davis.

European Parliament vice president Mairead McGuinness pictured with Simon Coveney. Photo: Fergal Phillips
European Parliament vice president Mairead McGuinness pictured with Simon Coveney. Photo: Fergal Phillips

"If we were able to have a trade agreement between the EU and UK, then of course it will be much easier to sort out issues around the Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland," Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Varadkar added that EU heads of state would decide on October 27 whether sufficient progress had been made for the talks to move to the next stage.

Meanwhile, European Parliament vice president Mairead McGuinness said Brexit had the potential to affect Anglo-Irish relations more than Ireland's War of Independence or the Declaration of the Republic in 1949.

The Fine Gael MEP also said proposals from London on customs, trade and the Irish Border "are more than the UK wanting to have its cake and eat it, it's an attempt to have its cake and eat ours".

"If the shape of Brexit is a hard one then the separation will be more definitive and absolute than anything envisaged by those involved in the foundation of the State," she said.

She was speaking during an oration at the annual Béal na mBláth commemoration in west Cork. Ms McGuinness also called for a national debate to take place in Ireland on the future of Europe.

"Brexit, as profound as it is, must not be allowed to sap all energies and efforts," said Ms McGuinness.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business