Sunday 26 May 2019

'We need more detailed and realistic proposals over Brexit' - Taoiseach tells Britain

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

Shona Murray

The Taoiseach has called for "more detailed and realistic" proposals from Britain over Brexit, warning "time was short" before the UK officially leaves the EU.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave a major policy speech today where she reinstated her government’s position to leave the single market and customs union.

"I have listened to the Prime Minister’s speech, and we will study it closely," said the Taoiseach.

But "we will now need to see more detailed and realistic proposals from the UK. Brexit is due to happen in a little over 12 months, so time is short."

Crucially, Mr Varadkar said he remained "concerned that some of the constraints of leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market are still not fully recognised."

Ms May did not give complete details on her plan to manage a seamless Irish border without customs checks which would apply when a country is outside the customs rules.

However, the Taoiseach said he welcomed that she gave a number of "important reassurances today", including restating her overall goal of a "very close relationship" with the EU and the Good Friday Agreement.

"I particularly welcome her clear commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland peace process and the need to avoid a hard border," said a statement from the office of the Taoiseach.

He said while the speech included "a number of signals about the type of future economic relationship that the UK Government wants", it also recognised that the UK will "face hard choices" given the deviating direction the UK wishes to go after it leaves the EU.

"For our part, a close economic relationship is very much in the interests of Irish business, as is a smooth transition period," he added.

"Meanwhile, we will continue to work closely with Michel Barnier and his team, and the other Member States, as we prepare for the March European Council, which is expected to agree new Negotiation Guidelines.

"Progress on the Withdrawal Agreement published last week will be important in the context of that next phase of work."

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