Varadkar: Not my job to help Theresa May

By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor

This week's Brexit deadline to solve the Irish border question will be missed because of British inaction, the Taoiseach has said.

In a defiant stance, Mr Varadkar insisted it is “not my job to help Theresa May” adding a special summit of EU leaders may now be required in September to avoid a hard Brexit.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Decriminalisation of Homosexuality at Dublin Castle this evening. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Speaking at an event in Dublin Castle marking the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the Taoiseach said the threat of a no-deal Brexit now means making preparations at Irish ports and airports if it happens next March.

EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday but leaders have already concluded that “sufficient and substantial progress” has not been made on the Irish backstop issue.

Mr Varadkar said the draft conclusions ahead of the summit have now been signed off by the 27 governments.

We are saying there has been some progress on some of the other aspects of the withdrawal agreement but there hasn’t been any progress since March on the Irish backstop.

He said negotiations need to intensify in the coming weeks.

“We are waiting for the British to produce their white paper on the future relationship.That is due in early July,” he said.

Also, he said EU countries are going to begin preparations for the possibility of a no deal Brexit, signalling the potential impact on Irish travellers and goods.

I dont think that is likely nobody does but we have to think it is a possibility. And that means making preparations in our ports and airports for that eventuality.

Asked if he could do anything to help the British, the Taoiseach was firm.

“It’s not my job to help Mrs May. The people of the United Kingdom decided on Brexit and it’s not my job to help Prime Minister May or the United Kingdom government. It’s my job to make sure that we don’t have a hard border on our island,” he said.

“We think October is the last time that you could realistically have a withdrawal agreement finalised because it does require parliamentary ratification both by the UK parliament and the European Parliament,” he said.

“We are going to review at the summit in Brussels as to whether there is an argument for having a special summit perhaps in September,” he said.

By Daniel McConnell
Political Editor

Most Read in Ireland