Brexit advocates are continuing to 'chase unicorns' says Irish PM

PUBLISHED: 18:38 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:38 13 March 2019

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the Brexiteers are still chasing unicorns. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the Brexiteers are still chasing unicorns. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said people who advocated for Brexit have been "chasing unicorns" for a "very long time".

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The Taoiseach made the comments to media while MPs at Westminster prepared to vote on whether they are prepared for the UK to leave the European Union without a deal.

“As we head into the next few weeks it should be blatantly obvious that unicorns only exist in fairytales,” he said.

“I would say to people who advocated Brexit - is this really what they wanted? Protectionism, borders, tariffs, restrictions on trade.

“Is this really what Brexit was all about? And for those who voted against the Withdrawal Agreement on the basis that they feared that Northern Ireland would be treated differently as a result of the backstop, it must be evident to them now that it’s the UK Ggvernment’s intention to treat Northern Ireland differently.”

Addressing the UK’s tariff proposals in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Varadkar said Northern Ireland will become a back door to the European single market.

“I don’t think the UK’s proposals will be workable for very long. They propose to treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK,” he said.

“Northern Ireland will become a back door to the European single market and I think that in a matter of months that will lead to the need for checks at Northern Ireland’s ports.

“So those that opposed the agreement may find that something very akin to the backstop is applied by the UK government in a few weeks’ time.”

Varadkar also said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the European customs code will apply to goods exported from the UK to the EU.

“That will obviously have a severe impact on the UK economy and the Northern Ireland economy in particular.

“Westminster can take the no deal off the table this evening, and if they do so then there is the potential to look at alternatives, for example the UK staying in the customs union.”

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