Wednesday 17 October 2018

Theresa May to provide new text for Brexit border deal within 24 hours

British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to provide the Irish government with new text aimed at resolving the impasse on a Brexit deal within 24 hours.

During a 15-minute phonecall with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the embattled Prime Minister said that having consulted with the DUP and officials in London she was preparing fresh language.

Mr Varadkar said he would review the wording with an “open mind” but that “red-line issues” adopted by Ireland even before the referendum remain.

He said “the room to manoeuvre is small” but that he believed Mrs May is “negotiating in good faith”.

Following a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Taoiseach adopted a diplomatic tone in a clear attempt to calm the fractions which have developed between Dublin, Belfast and London in recent days.

He warned that the Irish government is not so much concerned that a border will have to be erected on the day after Brexit but that a “creeping border” would develop over time.

He said the language was not a major problem for Ireland but the outcome was.

“I think the risk is over a number of years,” he said, making the case for regulatory alignment.

He said the laws in Republic and the North did not have to be similar on everything but did need to be “sufficiently” aligned so that a “Border by stealth” didn’t develop.

“It’s not an attempt in some ways to impose same laws on both sides of the Border.”

Mr Varadkar also urged the UK to adopt a similar approach for England, Scotland and Wales.

He repeated that Ireland had no hidden agenda but said wanted “normal business and normal people to continue their normal lives”.

Asked to respond to DUP leader Arlene Foster’s claim that Dublin blocked Mrs May from showing them the text of Monday’s deal, Mr Varadkar said: “I know it’s not true.”

He added that the accusation made no sense since the UK government would not take instructions from Dublin, adding that he “won’t be accepting any provocation from anyone on any of these matters”.

The Taoiseach added that he wants to work with Mrs May to repair the rift which has opened up in Anglo-Irish relations since Breixt.

“I wouldn’t like to be the Taoiseach and I know she wouldn’t want to be the Prime Minister that began the unravelling of all that progress that has been made in the past 20 years,” he said.

Mr Ruttle said the Netherlands fully backs in the Irish position and will continue to do so for as long as it takes to get a deal, even if that means delaying progress into the New Year.

“I hate Brexit from every angle. I don’t understand it,” he said.

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