Leo Varadkar says hard border not up for discussion regardless of Brexit deal fate

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will be no question of a hard border in Ireland regardless of whether the British government fails to get parliamentary approval for its' draft Brexit deal. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
John Monaghan

THE Irish government will not consider a hard border on the island regardless of whether the House of Commons votes down the British government's draft Brexit deal, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said that his government had "always had an open ear, open door to requests" from their British counterparts, but said the question of a hard border was not on the table.

British prime minister Theresa May is facing an uphill battle to get her draft agreement with the EU approved by parliament, with opposition from members of her own party, Labour, the DUP and the SNP.

Objections to the 'backstop', which would avoid a hard border in Ireland, have been at the centre of much of the criticism directed towards Mrs May.

The taoiseach told RTÉ that while he acknowledged that further conversations would have to take place with the EU if the plan fails to get through the House of Commons, the 585-page withdrawal agreement had been "agreed already by the UK government and by negotiators".

He added: "If we get the future relationship right, we may never need to invoke the backstop. Prime Minister Theresa May described it very well as to why an insurance policy couldn't have a unilateral exit clause."

Mr Varadkar said that Britain was in a "very difficult situation" but added that "sadly it's a situation they've put themselves in".

"Politics in Britain is very divided, the country is still divided roughly 50/50 on whether they want to leave the European Union at all, and even if there was a second referendum what would the question be, would it be on 'remain or leave' or would it be 'deal or no deal'," he added.

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