Saturday 20 January 2018

Brexit impasse: Taoiseach to review fresh UK text from May with 'open mind'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin following Brexit negotiations. Laura Hutton/PA Wire
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin following Brexit negotiations. Laura Hutton/PA Wire
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May is to provide the Irish Government with a new text aimed at resolving the impasse on a Brexit deal today.

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 the "red-line issues" adopted by Ireland even before the referendum remained.

He said "the room to manoeuvre is small", but he believed Mrs May was "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 fractures which have developed between Dublin, Belfast and London in recent days.

He warned that the Irish Government was not so much concerned that a Border would have to be erected on the day after Brexit, but that a "creeping Border" would develop over time.

Theresa May faces the problem of satisfying competing demands. Photo: Getty Images
Theresa May faces the problem of satisfying competing demands. Photo: Getty Images

He said the language in the deal was not a major problem for Ireland but the outcome would be.

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

He said the laws in the 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 the 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 it 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 it 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 wanted to work with Mrs May to repair the rift that had opened up in Anglo-Irish relations since the Brexit discussions began.

"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 Rutte said the Netherlands fully backed the Irish position and would continue to do so for as long as it took to get a deal, even if that meant delaying progress on Brexit talks into the New Year.

"I hate Brexit from every angle. I don't understand it," he said.

Irish Independent

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