Varadkar: ‘It’s not the solution – but it’s a start’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Photo: PA / Laura Hutton

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Photo: PA / Laura Hutton - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has boosted Theresa May in her ongoing tussle with the hard Brexiteers over her EU withdrawal White Paper.

The government published the Brexit White Paper on Thursday aimed at ensuring trade co-operation, with no hard border for Northern Ireland and global trade deals for the UK.

It has rubbished by many Tories though and sparked a raft of resignations including Brexit big beasts David Davis and Boris Johnson.

But the Taoiseach has cautiously welcomed the paper.

'I think it's fair to say that the White Paper is an evolution of the United Kingdom's position and evolved some of the red lines they had until now,' he said.

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'I don't think it provides a solution to Brexit but I think it is something that can provide an input into the negotiations.

'What will happen now is that we will all study the white paper at the weekend and the EU 27 prime ministers and Barnier task force will discuss it over the course of next week and issue a response to it.'

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Speaking at the Town Hall theatre in Westport, Co Mayo, at a rural Ireland event, Varadkar said the cabinet will be discussing its plans post-Brexit at a meeting next week.

'We think it's prudent that every (EU) member state should plan for the worst and that would be a hard Brexit with no deal,' he said.

'We are having a cabinet meeting in Kerry next week and we will be discussing that as one of the specific topics and should be able to produce some papers after that.

'What we are not preparing for is a border between north and south, we have said categorically there will not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but we will need to make preparations for changes at ports and airports.

'Even if there isn't a hard Brexit or a no-deal scenario, once Britain decides to leave the EU, there will need to be checks that don't currently exist.

'That is really where the preparations are centred on, ports and airports that deal with trade from the UK.'

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