Varadkar warns that EU-UK trade deal could take up to seven years
A trade deal between the UK and the EU could take up to seven years to negotiate, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned.
Mr Varadkar said the Government would hold firm on key issues and bring home the best deal possible as Brexit negotiations reach a crucial phase.
Speaking at a gathering of business people in Co Donegal organised by the local chamber of commerce, which sounded alarm bells at the potential risks posed by Brexit, Mr Varadkar committed to holding firm on key Irish issues, including the Border, the Common Travel Area and protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
"It's going to take many years to negotiate a new trade agreement with the UK and a new security partnership. It took seven years to negotiate it with Canada, for example, so we can't assume that a two-year transition period can be enough time to negotiate that new treaty between the UK and the EU. That's why we have to have the backstop, assuring us that, no matter what happens, we won't see the emergence of a hard Border on our island," he said.
His comments come amid a wave of speculation that the UK will eventually agree to a similar, but enhanced, trade deal as that between the EU and Canada after negotiations are complete. The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement is the favoured option of Brexiteers.