Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Chancellor Angela Merkel. RollingNews.ie photo
By Anthony Neeson
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted that the current EU deal with the UK cannot be changed, this as the British parliament prepares to vote on the Brexit agreement
Mr. Varadkar was speaking after holding a forty minute telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which took place at her request.
The taoiseach said that the conversation focused on securing the ratification of the withdrawal agreement which will be put to the House of Commons.
“We agreed that we would stand by the agreement we made with the United Kingdom at the end of last year. We are happy to offer reassurance and guarantees to the United Kingdom, but not reassurances and guarantees that contradict or change what was agreed back in November. We also discussed ‘no deal’ planning.
“It was quite a long call, it was an opportunity to kind of brainstorming a bit as to what we could do to assist prime minister May in securing ratification of the withdrawal agreement.”
Varadkar added, however: “What we both really agreed was this was a problem that was created in London. Brexit was a problem created in the United Kingdom, the inability of the United Kingdom to ratify the withdrawal agreement is a problem in Westminster and we are really looking to them for a solution.”
A European Commission spokeswoman said talks could not be reopened between the EU and UK.
“The deal that is on the table is the best and only deal possible and the EU27 leaders confirmed on 13 December in their conclusions that it will not be renegotiated,” she said.
“As I understand for now, no further meetings are foreseen between the commission’s negotiators and the UK’s negotiators, as negotiations have indeed concluded.”
However, the DUP are still insistent that British Prime Minister Theresa May must secure concessions from the EU before they can back any deal in a Commons vote.
Fresh from a meeting over lunch with Mrs. May, the party’s deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, said the publication of the Irish government’s “no deal’ preparations before Christmas showed that the Irish government were not planning for a hard border.
“No one wants a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic,” he said.
“Indeed, it’s becoming clearer by the day that no one is ever going to construct such a border. With this clarity emerging in London, Dublin and Brussels, there is evidently no need for the aspect of the Withdrawal Agreement which have been so vigorously opposed by a broad cross section of the House of Commons.
“The Withdrawal Agreement, as currently proposed, flies in the face of the government’s commitments on Northern Ireland as we leave the EU. Contrary to pro-EU spin, the backstop is not the best of both worlds.
“It is potentially indefinite in time, would place a barrier between us and our main trading partner in Great Britain, and give enormous leverage to the European Union in the negotiations on the future relationship with the United Kingdom.”