Irish premier warns against attempt to ‘amend or unthink’ Brexit deal

Daniel Fowler
November 19, 2018

But after widespread opposition to a withdrawal agreement unveiled by British Prime Minister Theresa May this week sharply increased the likelihood of a so-called "no-deal" Brexit, Leo Varadkar said he might not have a choice.

A group of Northern Ireland politicians are meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin to discuss the draft Brexit deal.

He said: "I could today stand here and take the Prime Minister through the list of promises and pledges that she made to this House and to us privately about the future of Northern Ireland and the future relationship with the European Union but I fear it would be a waste of time since she clearly doesn't listen".

Acknowledging Mrs May has "quite a battle" to get the draft document through the House of Commons, Mr Varadkar said: "She is someone who has shown enormous resilience in the past".

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that remained the case, despite Varadkar's warning, and that if it looked like Britain was heading towards a no-deal departure, then both sides would have to look at ways in which a hard border could be avoided.

"Certainly in our dealings with her she's been true to her word".

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Political commentator Noel Whelan said in the event of a no deal, and despite the economic fallout, he thinks the Irish people "will be forgiving" of the taoiseach, who he said "did an incredible job getting what the Irish government wanted into the agreement".

Mr Vara, a Conservative MP, has left his post over the Brexit draft deal.

"The Irish government could only ever seek to influence the process, they cannot manage the internal affairs of the Tory party", he said.

"It's a very fluid situation, and I think it'll be a very interesting day".

The United Kingdom, in turn, would likely be required by the World Trade Organisation to enforce its own border in Northern Ireland, he added.

"Whilst this agreement may not be flawless, and further clarification on certain aspects will be required, it is vastly preferable to a no-deal scenario and offers us an effective insurance policy in the interim period until a new trading relationship is agreed".

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