Leo Varadkar says Britain could avoid no deal Brexit by revoking Article 50

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the UK could avoid a no deal Brexit. Picture by Michelle Devane, Press Association

BRITAIN has the power to avoid a no-deal Brexit by revoking Article 50, the taoiseach has said.

It is understood Leo Varadkar is to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May in Dublin today as she attempts to rescue her EU withdrawal agreement.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil yesterday that no-one involved in the Brexit negotiations wanted to see the UK crash out of the European Union without a formal deal.

Article 50 is the mechanism which triggered the UK's planned withdrawal in March.

Mr Varadkar said yesterday it could be withdrawn or at least delayed.

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"Everybody wants to avoid a no deal scenario - in Britain, in Ireland and in the European Union," he said.

"The United Kingdom has the power to withdraw the threat of a no deal from us, from their own people and from the European Union.

"They can do it by revoking Article 50, or if that is a step too far they can do it by seeking an extension to Article 50."

Leading Brexit campaigner Iain Duncan Smith. File picture by Hannah McKay, Press Association

Meanwhile, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has accused Mr Varadkar of "playing a game" with the border backstop.

The backstop is an insurance arrangement in Mrs May's proposed Brexit deal which will prevent customs checks at the border if the UK leaves the EU without a formal agreement.

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Tory Brexiteers and the DUP are strongly opposed to the backstop amid concerns it will effectively create a border in the Irish Sea by keeping Northern Ireland under EU regulations.

On Monday, Mrs May delayed a House of Commons vote on her proposals after the government looked likely to be defeated.

Mr Duncan Smith, a leading supporter of Brexit, said the prime minister should tell the remaining EU countries that the backstop is "intolerable".

"There is absolutely no requirement to have this ludicrous backstop pressed upon the UK," he said.

"The EU knows it and so does Mr Varadkar, but he's playing a game for Irish politics and that needs to stop. The UK has to say to them [EU27 leaders]: 'You're putting at risk your own settlement if you don't agree something'."

The BBC also reported that an unnamed former Tory minister has claimed the "Irish really should know their place" in the Brexit negotiations.

Criticising Mr Varadkar's negotiating tactics, the ex-minister reportedly said: "We simply cannot allow the Irish to treat us like this."

Mr Varadkar has previously said the backstop cannot be renegotiated without "opening up all aspects" of the Brexit agreement.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney was due to bring a detailed paper to the Irish cabinet yesterday on plans for a potential no deal Brexit.

"We are now actively not only preparing for that, but taking actions to ensure that if necessary we will be ready on March 29 for Britain to leave the EU without a deal," he said.

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