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Donald Tusk: Britain's future is in Dublin's hands

European Council president Donald Tusk at Government Buildings in Dublin on Friday. Picture by Laura Hutton/PA
Staff Reporter

THE EU is standing firmly behind the Irish government’s demand that Britain give a written commitment to avoid a hard border.

Speaking in Dublin on Friday, standing alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, European Council president Donald Tusk first spoke in Irish and then said: “The Irish request is the EU request.”

Mr Tusk said the Dublin government will decide on behalf of the 27 European governments whether the British proposals are sufficient for the Brexit talks to move on to trade negotiations.

In a statement which will be greeted with dismay in London, Mr Tusk said: “This is why the key to the UK’s future lies – in some ways – in Dublin, at least as long as Brexit negotiations continue.”

“Before proposing guidelines on transition and future relations to the leaders, I will consult the taoiseach if the UK offer is sufficient for the Irish government.

“Let me say very clearly: If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand.”

Mr Tusk added: “The EU is fully behind you and your request that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.”

Theresa May’s government has been given until Monday to come up with a proposal which will satisfy the Irish government.

However, there were suggestions on Friday night that Mr Tusk had allowed sufficient room for negotiations, saying that there can only be complete clarity on the border when the arrangements between the EU and UK are finalised.

There was no immediate comment from the British government but Sinn Féin feared that Dublin would accept British proposals short of a no-hard-border guarantee. David Cullinane, the party’s spokesperson for Brexit, said there was a “worrying tone” to the Irish government’s language.

“Although the government keeps on saying that it wants to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and avoid a hard border, It appears that it has accepted that the north will be leaving the customs union and single market,” he said.

“All of the talk now is on how to mitigate the impact of the border that will be put in place.”

DUP MP Ian Paisley jnr said Mr Tusk’s attitude was one reason the UK was leaving the EU.

He tweeted: “We will not be blackmailed.”

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