Thursday 24 May 2018

Taoiseach casts doubt on future of Brexit talks

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Shona Murray in Sofia

The Taoiseach has cast ‘serious’ doubt over the future of Brexit talks this morning.

Ahead of his bi-lateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May he said "we need to seriously question if we’re going to have a Withdrawal Agreement."

The British have just a couple of weeks to issue a workable text on guaranteeing there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

"We need to know that it’s workable and legally operable, but we’re yet to see anything that remotely approaches that," said Mr Varadkar today.

This Irish backstop text also known as the Irish protocol is a key part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement which guides the terms and the conditions in which the UK can leave the EU in an orderly way.

"The Irish position stands, by June we need to see substantial progress," said Mr Varadkar from Sofia where he is attending a summit of all EU leaders, including Ms. May.

"We need to have that backstop because that ensures that there will be no hard border on our island.

"If the United Kingdom wants to put forward alternatives to that; whether it’s an alternative text to the backstop, or some sort of alternative future relationship between the UK and the EU, we’re willing to examine that but we need to see it written down in black and white," he warned.

"As the Tanaiste, Simon Coveney and I have said on many occasions the European Council will review progress in June.

"The deadline for the Withdrawal Agreement of course is October but if we’re not making substantial progress by June, then we need to seriously question if we’re going to have a Withdrawal Agreement."

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