Friday 18 January 2019

Ireland 'refusing to panic' as MPs brace for D-Day in Commons

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: PA
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The Irish Government insists it will hold steady and not panic in the face of impending chaos in the UK.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May last night and the two leaders discussed tomorrow's crucial Westminster vote on the withdrawal deal.

Ireland will be forced to hold its breath as the UK looks to be on course for a nightmare-before-Christmas Brexit scenario, with Mrs May facing a bitter battle to save her deal.

However, senior figures insist there will be no sense of emergency here if MPs decide not to back the Withdrawal Agreement.

A summit of EU leaders will take place on Thursday when the aftermath of the crunch Commons vote will be clearer.

A senior source insisted the Irish Government has been preparing for some time for the possibility that the deal will fail to win support.

The Government is maintaining an effective diplomatic silence in relation to the situation in the UK and any response to the result is expected to be co-ordinated with European partners.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said it would not be helpful to speculate ahead of the vote and on the call between the two leaders said Brexit and preparations for the EU Council were discussed.

Mr Varadkar has signalled a willingness to "listen" to the UK if the deal falls as expected.

This will likely take the form of waiting to hear what it is exactly UK MPs want out of Brexit, if not the deal that has been agreed. By voting down the deal, MPs will have a greater say in what happens next but effectively the only option with a majority backing is to avoid crashing out.

It is not clear what the next steps will be if the deal is defeated. "It really depends on what the UK asks for if they vote against the deal," a source pointed out.

Irish Independent

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