'We can't roll out extensions forever' - Varadkar piles pressure on May and Corbyn over Brexit deal
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to strike a deal with Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn by insisting he does not want the Brexit deadline extended again
Mr Varadkar said the decision to extend the exit date to October is already impacting on investment and consumer confidence in Ireland.
Speaking outside the Binnenhof in the Hague, Holland, Mr Varadkar said: "We really can’t have a situation where we roll out extensions forever."
“It's already the case that the uncertainty around Brexit has caused business and others to delay investment decisions. I know it has damaged consumer confidence in Ireland, although our economy is performing very well," he added.
The Taoiseach was speaking after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte where both leaders discussed their shared visions for the future of the EU.
Central to their discussion was the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit as Ms May and Mr Corbyn continue to negotiate a solution to end the deadlock.
Mr Varadkar said on the "ball was very much in England's court" and insisted it was now up to the leaders of the UK’s two main parties to reach an agreement which avoids a no deal Brexit.
"I very much hope the two many parties there are able to come to an agreement that allows for and orderly exit from the European Union," he said.
The Taoiseach said there were three solutions to avoiding a border on the Island of Ireland which has been a central issue throughout the Brexit negotiations
The first was for the UK to remain in the EU, which the Taoiseach acknowledged was not an option. The second was the so called Norway Plus solution which would see the UK stay in the customs union and the single market. The final solution was the controversial backstop which was agreed in withdrawal agreement between the EU and Ms May's negotiating team last year.
The Taoiseach said a side deal on the Irish border could not be discussed because Ireland was an EU member state.
“It is something that can't be dealt with bilaterally between Ireland and the UK or by means of a side letter because we are part of the European Union,” he said.
“Ireland is in the customs union, the single market and when the UK leaves that border between Northern Ireland and Ireland will need a frontier so it is never a matter that can be dealt with bilaterally between Ireland and the UK for that reason,” he added.
Separately, the Taoiseach and Mr Rutte discussed “international tax developments”.
“Both countries strongly believe that tax is sovereign issue that individual countries and member states should decide for themselves,” Mr Varadkar said.
“We also appreciate we can't have a world where very large very wealthy companies avoid paying tax anywhere and that’s why we strongly support global solution to some of those issues,” he added.