Monday 20 May 2019

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reiterates 'firm' view on Brexit text in phone call with Theresa May

Leo Varadkar and Theresa May at a meeting earlier this year in Downing Street
Leo Varadkar and Theresa May at a meeting earlier this year in Downing Street

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have spoken for the first time since Brexit talks collapsed on Monday.

The two leaders held a telephone conversation this afternoon during which they “took stock” of developments since the DUP torpedoed a deal.

“The Taoiseach reiterated the firm Irish position regarding the text as outlined by him on Monday,” a spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said.

They will speak again in the coming days.

A spokesperson for Theresa May said: “They both agreed about the paramount importance of no hard border or physical infrastructure at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister said how she recognised the significance of this issue to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland and how this remained a joint priority for both Governments, and the EU, to resolve.

“The Prime Minister said we are working hard to find a specific solution to the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland that respects the integrity of the UK, the European Union and the Belfast Agreement.

“She added that we are committed to moving together to achieve a positive result on this as well as restoring devolved Government to Northern Ireland. Both leaders looked forward to continuing relations as close neighbours and allies as the negotiations progress.”

Meanwhile Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said Ireland will support the UK getting a good trade deal in Phase II of the negotiations.

The UK Chancellor said today that he expects the Irish government “will be a strong supporter of a deep and comprehensive partnership between the UK and EU because that is very much in the interests of the Republic of Ireland”.

Replying on Twitter, Mr Coveney said: “Very true. Ireland like UK wants to move Brexit to Phase II, where we will support a comprehensive EU-UK trade facilitating barrier free, seamless trade.

“But we must finalise Phase I issues credibly first. Our asks are not unreasonable but are important.”

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