Sunday 25 March 2018

I have to keep the door open for UK reversal on Brexit - Leo

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Conor Kane

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar still hopes that the UK will pull back from the Brexit precipice, saying that part of his remit is to "keep the door open" for our neighbours.

Mr Varadkar said that the best outcome for Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain itself is to avoid any border.

He was speaking in Waterford where he and the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald officially opened an €85m extension to the Bausch & Lomb contact lens manufacturing facility, for the creation of 125 jobs.

Speaking about Brexit, he said: "Well, I still hope that it won't happen. Brexit is a British policy, not an Irish one, it's the United Kingdom that's decided to leave."

But he added: "When it comes to my work in Brussels... it's part of my remit to keep the door open, not just to the European Union, but also to the single market and also to the customs union should they decide to go down that route.

"That, I think, would be the best outcome for Ireland and Northern Ireland and Britain."

Relations with Arlene Foster's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have soured over the issue of a post-Brexit Border.

The DUP claims the Taoiseach was politicking for domestic purposes when he said Ireland would not help Britain design an economic Border for Brexiteers.

But the DUP was told to stop "whingeing" about the Irish Government's post-Brexit Border stance and instead focus on re-establishing the Northern Ireland Executive and Brexit discussions.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond said: "The DUP's whingeing doesn't hide their political impotence.

"They would be far better off seeking to influence their government partners in Westminster and working to get the Executive back up and running to give Northern Ireland a strong voice."

The DUP was left angry after Mr Varadkar said last week that the Irish Government does not want any sort of economic Border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

He said if the British want to put forward technological solutions, they can, but the Government would not do that work for them.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds hit out at the comments and said politicians in the Republic were positioning for a general election.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business