002 taoiseach statement 90562480

Varadkar: we can't shift on 'no hard border'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. ROLLING NEWS. IE

By Anthony Neeson

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the Irish government are implementing plans for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

On Tuesday night the House of Commons in London voted down British Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal with the European Union by 230 votes.

With 72 days remaining before the UK leaves the EU it is looking increasing likely that Britain will crash out of the European Union without a deal.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

“We can’t shift on the issue of there being no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland,” said Mr Varadkar at Government Buildings.

“That is the outcome that we need. We have said it from day one that Brexit cannot result in a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“We have made that commitment to the people of Ireland, north and south. And the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom Government has made that commitment to the people of Ireland north and south, so it needs to be honored.”

He added: “What is required here is for Britain to essentially decide what kind of Brexit it wants.”

He said the Irish government is now putting in place its plans for the UK leaving the EU with no deal.

“These are no longer contingency plans, they are being implemented,” he said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the EU was in no mood to change the Withdrawal Agreement it signed with the British government.

“We don’t even know what the ask is, we’ll have to wait and see what they’re asking for,” he said.

“Those who have rejected the backstop do not have alternative solutions in terms of how we provide reassurance (on the border).

“If there isn’t a future relationship that resolves the border issue, then the backstop will kick in which involves minimal checks on goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.”

The DUP voted against the Prime Minister last night but will back Mrs May during a no confidence vote against her in the Commons today.

Sammy Wilson MP urged the Prime Minister to go back to Brussels and renegotiate the deal.

“Go back to the EU and make it clear this deal’s not going to work,” he said. “There is no point in keeping something on the table when it’s been kicked off the table, kicked out of the room.”